Narodowy Bank Polski, the central bank of Poland, admitted it was paying campaigns against the cryptocurrencies on YouTube and social media. The bank spent 91,000 zloty (around 27 thousand US dollars) for a number of campaigns on Google, Facebook and a Polish YouTube partner network called Gamellon.
Even though it is not unusual for governments or agencies to issue warnings or try to educate the public about the risky investments in cryptocurrencies, the Polish financial authorities took a step further. Trying to turn the public against the cryptocurrencies, they used taxpayers’ money to pay campaigns against the crypto ecosystem. The central bank of Poland worked on this in cooperation with the Polish Financial Oversight Commission (PFOC) – in Polish Komisja Nadzoru Finansowego (KNF).
The money was paid to a Polish YouTube network that gathers many popular and young content creators. Marcin Dubiel, one of the content creators, published a video called “I LOST ALL MONEY?!”, where he talked in a negative way about the cryptocurrencies. His YouTube channel has almost one million subscribers. The video was published at the beginning of December last year.
Dubiel’s video has more than 500,000 views contains a hashtag #uważajnakryptowaluty, which means be careful about the cryptocurrencies and it is connected to a webpage with the same title created by the central bank of POland. One other YouTube channel paid to talk negatively about the cryptocurrencies is called Planeta Faktów (Facts planet). This channel published a video called “10 differences between money and cryptocurrencies you should be aware of”.
The video was not marked as paid promotion on YouTube and the description did not mentioned anything about it being part of the campaign launched and paid for by the Polish central bank. A website called Spider’s Web says this is against the law in Poland, where sponsored content has to be marked as such. Besides, judging by the quality of the content, its distribution channels and creators, it looks like younger generation was the target audience of the campaign.
This type of attack, where social media is used, is a fast growing way to influence the public opinion. Recently, the American Department of Justice accused 13 Russians and three companies of creating a sophisticated network that tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It looks like the central bank of Poland is taking a similar approach to influence the public opinion on the cryptocurrencies.
After the news, the Polish central bank faced a lot of questions and issued a statement ten days ago in which it confessed there was a campaign on social media related to the virtual currencies conducted by the bank. As mentioned earlier, the cost of the campaign was around 27,000 dollars.
The central bank of Poland is one of the many central banks around the world that issued warnings against the cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology behind them. For example, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) instructed the citizens to be extremely cautious when it comes to investing in cryptocurrencies. The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) of South Korea also warned the citizens about the investment in virtual coins.