Google vs Crypto, round 2: MetaMask gets delisted from the Play Store

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Ibis
Dec 28, 2019

After ‘accidentally’ removing crypto-related content from dozens of popular Youtube channels earlier in the week, Google has once again managed to invoke the collective rage of the entire crypto community.


On Thursday, MetaMask, one of the most popular Ethereum wallets, announced that their android application has been removed from the Google Play App Store, and their appeal rejected:

Google referred to its blanket anti-mining policy as the reason behind the ban, which is peculiar because, well, you can’t mine cryptocurrency with MetaMask. In fact, in covering the story, several outlets pointed to the fact that no independent researchers ever reported finding mining code within the app.


This isn’t the first time that Google went against MetaMask either - as the project reminded everyone in their recent twitter thread, the MetaMask Chrome plugin was suddenly delisted from the Google Chrome Store back in July 2018, before being spontaneously reinstated after community outcry.


Although MetaMask can’t be used for mining, some believe that the app may still technically clash with Google’s app guidelines. In its coverage, Bitcoinist points to the possibility of simulated mining on MM as the possible reason behind the ban:


“The MetaMask wallet, which links to the Ethereum network, can be used, in theory, for one very prevalent form of simulated “mining”. The currently active smart contract allows for the creation of the HEX token, in exchange for ETH. This process is more akin to buying a token than mining, but it also clashes with Google’s rules on offering crypto-enabled finance.”


To date, MetaMask has managed to sustain a massive following, with their Chrome plugin alone boasting almost 1 million users. As one of the key gateways to many Ethereum-based dapps, the wallet also garners a strong and particularly active community.


Following the news, that community quickly got to work, accusing the tech behemoth of censorship and demanding that the MetaMask ban be revoked asap:

The story quickly propelled 'Google' and 'MetaMask' to our list of top 10 emerging words on crypto social media, with over 400 new mentions of the two recorded by Sanbase in the last 36 hours:

Mentions of 'Google' and 'Metamask' on crypto social media, last 3 months (Source: Sanbase)

Right as YouTube apologized for removing hundreds of crypto-centered videos from the platform, the MetaMask ban instantly re-ignited the idea that Google is in an all-out war with crypto. For many, the timing of the ban feels too deliberate to be a coincidence:

While some believe that Google is worried that cryptocurrencies might jeopardize their base business model and over-reliance on fiat, others read the recent ban wave as the company laying the groundwork for its own foray into crypto:

Some are also wondering why other apps - like the Electroneum wallet - continue to operate freely on the Google Play Store despite openly advertising its coin mining features:

In response to both the MetaMask ban and YouTube’s crypto purge, many are calling on the crypto community to take a united stand against Big Tech, and effectively ‘degoogle’:

Others have used this as an opportunity to remind people to switch to the Brave browser, although this wouldn’t technically solve the issue at hand as it was the MetaMask android app - not its Chrome plugin - that got delisted this time around:

Finally, much like with the YouTube drama earlier in the week, there’s been a fair share of ‘this is good for Ethereum’ talk seeping into discussions:

The community outrage eventually prompted a response from Google, though it wasn’t as much an apology this time as a generic ‘we’ll look into it’:

At the time of writing, the MetaMask app has yet to be reinstated on the Google Play Store. Until that happens, it’s going to be nigh impossible for Android users to download MetaMask on their devices. There’s no official .apk provided by the MM team,

so the only option would be to build the app directly from the source code.

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Ibis
Dec 28, 2019

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