Despite remarkable recent advancements in the social and political acceptance of cannabis, Youtube, the global video platform owned by Google has begun shutting down a whole host of channels containing cannabis related content.
Without warning, or indeed any form of justification, the California owned social media plaform has removed dozens of channels (many of which had existed for years) from their site despite cannabis being legalized in more than half of the US today, including, rather ironically, in California!
The move has caught many, fully legitimate cannabis or cannabis related companies off guard and has left them with a serious issue regarding the marketing of their products going forward.
The ban is seen as indicative of the outdated stigmata that still, sadly, continues to follow cannabis while the recent wave of negative publicity surrounding online security and privacy in the tech industry, has surely forced the hand of a company not willing to take any chances on cannabis content.
While the country and much of the planet continues to move towards a new era of acceptance and understanding of cannabis, it would appear that Google and social media channels like Youtube have decided to move in the opposite direction.
Unfortunately, Youtube is not the first high-profile social media site to remove cannabis content with Facebook also adopting a similar approach back in 2016.
These Social media and video sharing platforms had proved to be vital tools in the movement to legalize cannabis over the last decade with so many people sharing, and learning information that may not have previously been accessible to them.
However, at present, neither Google nor Facebook, two of the most powerful companies on the planet will now accept any cannabis advertising with Youtube now following the lead of Facebook in their purge of cannabis-related content this summer. Both companies have said they are willing to hold discussions about cannabis in the future but will not facilitate any commercial interest in cannabis.
While Facebook has eased their stance somewhat in recent months in allowing cannabis companies to post content, but not advertise, enforcement of the rules is considered to be both inconsistent and arbitrary.
Facebook has conceded that the system (which involves both an algorithm and human judgment) for determining whether an ad is appropriate or not is not exact but it would appear that there is now an increased level of determination to remove cannabis related content from both Facebook and Youtube.
Cannabis Content “Shadow Banned” on Facebook
Indeed, Facebook has been accused of enforcing what is known as a “shadow ban” on cannabis-related pages. Essentially this means that a page becomes invisible to any users searching for it and makes cannabis-related pages significantly harder to find through Facebook searches, including those from mainstream media sources and government agencies. The pages are active and accessible via direct link but are otherwise hidden to those that don't actually know the pages' URLs.
This particular Facebook page was mainly used to provide information on upcoming events and regulatory deliberations and despite being an official government agency, and existing to provide information to the public, the page was removed without any warning or explanation by Facebook.
With the social media giant not providing any reason for the removal, it is not clear if the ban is by design, or instead because of an algorithmic anomaly.
With Facebook and Google being private companies, they are able to decide who can and cannot advertise on their platforms. As a result, both sites have already banned tobacco advertisements while also restricting ads for guns and other weapons. It now appears that cannabis is being added to that list.
The consequences of the ban are far-reaching, both for the general public and for the success of any business that is involved with cannabis and actively using social media either to promote their brand or simply to inform the public about the incredible wealth of potential benefits cannabis has to offer.
One such business that has been directly affected by the recent Youtube ban is CMW Media, a cannabis marketing and PR firm.
President of CMW Media, Kyle Porter explained that his company had helped to promote a client who supplied hydroponic equipment typically used by cannabis growers. Unfortunately for Porter, his company had broken Facebook’s advertising rules. His punishment? A lifetime ban on advertising, anything, on Facebook.
“As a marketing professional you can imagine how devastating that can be,” he said.
Porter claims that he has been informed by Facebook that their decision is final and nothing can be done to reverse the decision.
“There’s no further action that you may take here. Please consider this decision final.” was the harsh Facebook verdict.
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What can be Done to Redress the Balance?
For cannabis companies, the decisions taken by these social media platforms, and the lack of clarity or understanding of why those decisions have been taken is frustrating and could potentially create serious issues going forward.
With little possibility of advertising in traditional methods like newspapers, tv, radio or billboard, cannabis companies were already highly restricted in their ability to both market and inform the general public but with Facebook and Google enforcing bans, those restrictions just got even tighter.
With any problem though, there are always solutions and while the current social media ban only helps to reinforce existing cannabis stereotypes, cannabis has a long-established history of resilience and will surely once again recover despite the recent removal of content.
With cannabis finally evolving into a position of increased social acceptance and understanding, it is so important that those channels of communication remain open for all. With so much misinformation polluting our online world, it is essential that access to reliable information is available to everyone.
Clearly, until cannabis is fully legalized, legitimized and fully understood, it will continue to face stigma, misinformation and a whole host of negative and false stereotypes. Consequently, It is our shared responsibility to inform our friends and our family of the truth regarding this wonderful plant.
The topic of cannabis and it’s increasing presence in society is a fascinating one and it is vital that all channels of communication remain open to all of us. An increased level of accurate and reliable information is now more necessary than ever.
Cannabis has been a part of our planet for many thousands of years and despite this latest setback, it is surely going to be an even bigger part of our societies future.
Disclaimer: Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Endoca and its staff. This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or cure. Endoca CBD products have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).