Facebook Continues to Punish Cannabis Pages
This is a topic that we at Ohio Marijuana can certainly attest to: Facebook is making it much more difficult to find cannabis-related companies, regulators and trade groups. According to MJ Biz Daily, in Facebook's latest attempts to filter results related to "marijuana" and "cannabis" it has caused a shadowban on any business associated with cannabis-related businesses.
A shadowban is a social media term that is defined as the act of hiding posts, groups, or pages on an online social community from individuals searching for certain terms. Essentially, if you try to search "Ohio Marijuana Card" on Facebook, our page and other cannabis-related pages and posts will not appear, despite the fact that we are actively posting every single day.
This is not the first time that Facebook has shuttered cannabis-related businesses on their platform, as 2 years ago there was a massive wave of cannabis-related Facebook and Instagram pages that were closed without warning. While there was a confirmed total of 100 different pages that were affected, many in the industry believe that is just a sliver of the overall amount of pages that were censored.
And these aren't the only tactics that Facebook has used to hide cannabis-related pages. While alcohol companies and pharmaceutical companies are allowed to "boost" a post, or increase its visibility, cannabis-related businesses are not allowed this same luxury. In addition to the shadowbanning, this practice further hides cannabis-related pages making it nearly impossible to create cannabis education that can reach a large audience - one of many reasons the stigmas associated with cannabis still persist to this day.
Personally speaking, here at Ohio Marijuana Card we have dealt with, and experienced, all of the problems discussed above: we are shadowbanned, not a single post we have requested to be boosted has been accepted, and we have had a number of Facebook posts deleted for erroneous reasoning. The latest wave of Facebook's updates are closing the walls in even further on individuals and groups simply attempting to spread cannabis education.
There are a number of factors that this practice by Facebook creates for cannabis-related businesses on social media:
Inconsistencies with the shadowbans
Critics have argued that Facebook's newest policy is inconsistent in its application of enforcing community standards for cannabis businesses and associated organizations. For example, MJ Biz Daily states that they were unable to find a company like Maine's Summit Medical Marijuana dispensary in a Facebook search, yet you could find two of its' competitors that have less conspicuous names such as Canuvo and the Wellness Connection.
Facebook's Vague Response
Facebook provided MJ Biz Daily with the following statements:
Facebook uses a combination of technology, human review and community reports to enforce community standards.
Mistakes are made. If something was removed that shouldn’t have been, reviewers quickly work to restore it.
Facebook is actively making it harder for users to find content that facilitates the sale of opioids or other drugs on its platform.
The social media site has filtered search results for many terms associated with drug sales. In some cases, such a search will only return links to drug-related news articles or permissible information that is shared on Facebook.
As a result, users may see inconsistent results related to specific search terms.
The statement provides no clarification or further guidance on how cannabis-related businesses can remain compliant with Facebook's constantly shifting community standards
State Agency Pages are Being Hidden
It is not only cannabis companies like dispensaries and cultivators being affected; cannabis regulators, advocacy organizations, and trade groups have also been swept up in these most recent changes. For example, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and the Marijuana Policy Project have all been shadowbanned from searches. These types of organizations being shadowbanned are not only inconvenient but also dangerous, as it limits the reach of messaging from these regulatory agencies that make announcements regarding product recalls and other health news.
Impact on Regulatory Efforts
The shadowbans have had a huge effect on the BCC to effectively communicate information to California patients. Alex Traverso, the bureau's chief of communications, told MJ Biz Daily that the shadowban has made it incredibly difficult for residents to locate valuable information such as promoting public comment events and encouraging licensees to participate in the process. Traverso went on to state,
“From our point of view, we’re not a cannabis business,” Traverso said. “We’re a state agency. We don’t sell cannabis products. We don’t advocate for the use of cannabis... We’re strictly informational, and we use the site as a way to communicate with people about the work we do and to be transparent about the work we’re doing.”
Following the rules doesn't ensure you will be found - again, we can attest to this aspect of the policy, as we have had a number of posts taken down on both Instagram and Facebook for "Promoting the Sale of Illegal Drugs", despite the fact medical marijuana is in fact legal in Ohio and we are licensed with state agencies.
As Amy Donahue, the owner of Hybrid Social, a Phoenix-based social media firm that works with several Arizona dispensaries:
“I’ve followed the rules to a ‘T’ on Instagram and lost an Instagram account...Even if you’re playing by the rules, you’re still vulnerable to being taken down.”
If you ever notice that we are not as active as we usually have been on social media, this will likely be the contributing factor. We will not allow Facebook's policy to stop us from spreading cannabis education to anybody and everybody that is interested. We will continue to post regularly regarding all aspects of Ohio's Medical Marijuana Program and cannabis education, whether it be providing our patients with the Best Dispensary Prices, providing Discounts and Deals for dispensaries, or reviewing different cannabis strains and products.
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If you are an Ohioan suffering from one of these 21 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.
Click here to learn more about what Ohio Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at (866-457-5559) and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment.