The social media platform reverses course on marijuana
Facebook began blocking cannabis and marijuana searches on its platform almost a year ago. It seemed, at the time, to be an odd move, given that the company had more important issues – such as global hacks and info theft – to worry about. Now, just days before Canada is set to legalize marijuana across the country, the world’s number one social media platform has reversed its position and will allow the searches to return.
Facebook, as well as Instagram, had implemented filters to prohibit searches related to cannabis and marijuana in an effort to prevent the platform from being used as a retail marijuana site. As of October 12, however, the ban has been lifted. Users can now find cannabis-related pages, but only those that carry Facebook’s “blue” or “gray” verification symbols.
In an email to MarketWatch, a spokeswoman for the company, Sarah Pollack, explained, “We are constantly working to improve our search results so that we minimize the opportunity for people to attempt illicit drug sales while showing content that is allowed on Facebook and is relevant to what you are searching. When searching ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana,’ Pages [sic] that have been verified for authenticity will now be included in search results.”
The blue verification is used for confirmed brands, media companies and celebrities, while grey is for those organizations and businesses that are confirmed, but which don’t fit under the blue heading. It only means that the page is authentic.
According to the founder of The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Keith Stroup, the move is an important recognition of marijuana. He told Forbes magazine, “Facebook’s policy change is reflecting the reality that marijuana is already legal in nine states, Washington D.C. and will be legal in Canada next week. I realize it’s hard for some of these companies to adjust to the new reality. Facebook is experiencing what all institutions are going through —transitioning from when marijuana use was a crime to it being a legitimate enterprise. It isn’t reefer madness anymore.”