Should Cannabis Brands Be Allowed to Advertise on Social Media?
Social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube are banning many cannabis pages and even preventing posts in groups. What kind of content should social media platforms allow? You decide.
Facebook’s policy has prevented cannabis sales and ads on the platform for some time now. Last year, they spent about three months considering whether to do so and what the merits would be of allowing cannabis ads – both from an internal business perspective and externally. This makes sense from a terms of services perspective, as there are many grey areas within the legal cannabis industry. This is due to the drug’s prohibition at the federal level.
The CBD Market Grows
However, they also blocked ads and banned accounts that even mentioned perfectly legal CBD. There doesn’t appear to be too much rhyme or reason for these bans. Because while there are snake-oil salespeople selling false claims of CBD being a cure-all and possibly violating FDA rules, there are also legitimate businesses selling hemp-derived CBD that is perfectly legal in most states and could possibly help people. What’s worse, many of these accounts aren’t getting warned or banned for 30-days, they are being removed from the platform entirely.
Lots of brands put marketing money into Facebook ads, and it stands to reason that these brands in legal states would be able to do so if they follow the rules in order to get their products in front of eyeballs. And in the U.S., there are 65 million Americans that have tried CBD in some form. There are about 63 percent of those people who have found it effective, according to a survey from Consumer Reports.
CBD is a money-making opportunity that isn’t going away anytime soon, with a chance for it to blossom to be a market that could be worth $16 billion per year by 2025. CBD companies want the FDA to ease regulations on products, but as usual, this is tough to do because of cannabis being illegal at the federal level. The majority of Americans accept the effectiveness of cannabis medicine, even the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Cannabis Brands Take a Stand
It does seem curious that Facebook’s data-mining is okay, even to the point where you will verbally mention a product you’re looking at, and then it will creepily show up as a Wish ad in your newsfeed. We’re no conspiracy theorists, but this doesn’t all add up – and doesn’t seem fair to legitimate cannabis brands. Most brands would concur, and as a matter of fact, there is even a common-law fraud and deceptive ad practices lawsuit. The lawsuit Facebook faces comes from the founder of the popular hip-hop website SOHH, Felicia Palmer, who now champions the healing properties of cannabis after having cancer. Facebook was happy to take Palmer’s money to promote the ads of her cannabis brands while restricting who could see them. But one day she found her brand accounts had disappeared. There were no warnings or bans, either – just a complete deletion.
Like it or not, social media giants have massive amounts of power when it comes to the future of the legal weed industry. And unfortunately for herb brands, social platforms like Facebook use their algorithms to determine what consumer eyeballs should see cannabis content – even if the said consumer likes a page or follows it. They also decide what is permitted and what accounts are banned – often with little explanation or recourse. This lack of transparency has rightfully put social media platforms under a lot of scrutiny, with their policies and terms of service placed under microscopes. However, years after this scrutiny started, not too much has changed.
Personal Accounts Aren’t Safe Either
It’s not just brands, websites or small businesses that are prevented from posting things on Facebook. Recently, the social media conglomerate also banned 6.6 billion accounts that were deemed to be fake. So it should go without saying by now that Facebook is fond of banning accounts. But trying to understand the way Facebook determines what is appropriate to post can be confusing. In fact, we often see accounts catch blocks from posting in private groups, and individual accounts often face bans for strange reasons.
There is an entire team of people at Facebook whose sole job is to monitor and scrutinize what personal accounts can post. And it is hard to keep up when the terms of service are constantly in flux. If an algorithm catches your account posted something that could be deemed as sexually suggestive, nudity, or hate speech can get your personal account banned.
However, it’s not uncommon to see people post this all the time, and much of this is subjective – and again, difficult to understand or keep up with. It’s to the point where some people or pages can get away with posting just about anything, but others can catch a 30-day ban for the same thing. Facebook owns Instagram, so the rules are pretty much the same over there. Twitter users can get away with more age-appropriate sexual content, and you’ll find a lot of adult content on there if there are no age restrictions on your account.
Of course, Facebook isn’t the only social media giant that bans cannabis brands. Google banned cannabis apps in the Android store. Google also took down weed YouTube channels with hundreds of thousands of subscribers that have been taken down for years now. Cannabis content on Tik-Tok is also in question, as the video-sharing app continues to grow to a popularity level of massive proportions. We think it’s high time to cut the nonsense and accept the fact that the legal cannabis industry isn’t going anywhere, and for social media to find a way to work with it, not against it.
If You Have Nothing Nice to Say…
Again, all of this content coming into question is largely subjective. Naturally, people get mad at what they see all the time. Just take a look at what some people were saying about the Super Bowl halftime show. I personally think that if you don’t like something, get offended by it, or find it distasteful, just don’t look at it. Change the channel, take away your kid’s tablet, do whatever you need to do. Comment if you wish, but don’t try to get accounts banned. As long as no one is getting physically hurt, robbed, cheated, scammed, and so on, live and let live. But that’s just me. We would love to hear your thoughts! Should social media permit cannabis brands to advertise? What about allowing cannabis apps on the Apple/ Google stores? Let us know.
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