Facebook appears to be making it more difficult for its users to discover cannabis-themed companies, trade groups, regulators, and even media outlets. The practice was first reported last week by Marijuana Moment.
Facebook has been at odds with the cannabis industry for years. Despite the plant’s legal status in a growing number of states and the fact that it’s currently one of the most popular political topics among American voters, Facebook continues crack down on cannabis pages because they are at odds with federal law.
“Because of the borderless nature of our community, we try to enforce our policies as consistently as possible.” — Excerpt from Facebook’s Community Standards
Now, however, it appears that Facebook is taking a new approach and is “shadow banning” cannabis-related pages. Shadow banned pages have not been deleted but, instead, can no longer be discovered via Facebook search results. Users who have already “liked” the page will continue to see its content but new users will not be able to discover the page (or any of its posts/content) even if they search for it directly.
New York-based Rosie Mattio, who runs a PR agency that works for the cannabis industry, told Marijuana Business Daily the practice could cause financial hardships for cannabis companies — many of whom rely on their social media presence to make up for a lack of advertising options.
“While Facebook has held a pretty hard line on advertising, which cannabis companies have been dealing with for years, this a big hit to cannabis businesses and brands. A company’s social pages are as important, if not more important, than their website.” — Rosie Mattio, founder of RMPR, via Marijuana Business Daily
Historically, Facebook has focused its anti-cannabis efforts on dispensaries, growers, and other “touch-the-plant” companies. But, according to the report, the victims of Facebook’s new “shadow ban” policies now include the pages of cannabis regulators, advocacy organizations, trade groups, and even media outlets.
Perhaps most frustrating, however, is that Facebook’s new enforcement actions appear to be wildly inconsistent. For example, if you search for “National Cannabis Industry Association” or “Marijuana Policy Project” on Facebook, you’ll find no results; but if you search for the “Drug Policy Alliance,” their page pops up.
Shadow banned pages can still be found via targeted Google searches.