Polish financial authorities have spent taxpayers’ money on a smear campaign on Youtube and Facebook against investing in cryptocurrencies. While issuing warnings or trying to educate the public against what regulators fear are risky investments are not uncommon around the world, in this case they tried to sway public opinion against crypto assets by paying social media influencers to attack them.
The Central Bank of Poland (Narodowy Bank Polski or NBP), in cooperation with the country’s Financial Supervision Authority (Komisja Nadzoru Finansowego or KNF), have paid over 90,000 PLN (Polish złoty) for an online smear campaign against cryptocurrency investments. The money went, among others, to a Polish Youtube content network which represents many popular young local content creators.
A rather silly video with the title “I LOST ALL MONEY?!” depicting investments in cryptocurrencies in a negative light appeared on December 8 on the Marcin Dubiel’s channel, a Polish youtube prankster who has over 900,000 subscribers. The film, which already has over half a million views, is marked with the hashtag #uważajnakryptowaluty, which is associated with a website set by NBP and the KNF to say that “Virtual currency is not money” and similar warnings.
As the local reports pointed out, the video was not marked on Youtube as “including paid promotion”, and there is also no mention in its description that it is part of the campaign for which the NBP paid. The material paid for by NBP was also published on the Polish Planeta Faktów channel on Youtube. Furthermore, judging by the quality of the content, its distribution channels and its creators, the smear campaign appears to target young kids.
After one individual sent a question to the NBP about campaigns financed by the central bank, the NBP replied in a letter dated 9 February and admitted that it “carried out a campaign on the issue of virtual currencies in social media.” As mentioned above, the campaign cost 91,200 PLN worth about $27,000 in taxpayers’ money. In addition to Google Ireland (which owns Youtube) and Facebook Ireland, its beneficiaries were Gamellon, a Polish Youtube partner network focused on gaming channels.