It’s nothing new that many cannabis companies and influencers are having their accounts shut down by social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter because their posts have been violating their terms of service. The New Republic’s Facebook page was even shut down once, for posting an article on CBD. However, plenty of pages have managed to stay up and maintain a following, by complying with the social media giant’s community standards as good as possible. In theory, you should not have any problems on Facebook and Instagram, as long as you are not actively selling cannabis products. Reality is different though, sadly a lot of influencers have lost their pages even though they have not sold anything at all.
The newest thing is that Facebook is “shadow banning” cannabis pages. We just tried to search our Facebook page World of Cannabis and Facebook didn’t show us any results. The same thing happened when we searched Cannabis Training University which is run by a good friend of ours. It looks like they ban pages containing the words cannabis or marijuana from the search results.
Shadow banning means that a page becomes invisible to any users searching for it. The page remains active but doesn’t appear in searches. In this case, it seems that it disappeared from searches even for people who were already following it. If you have a page like World of Cannabis with almost 2’000’000 followers, it’s not too bad because you will be reaching many of impressions anyway (16’103’587 in the last 28 days to be precise) but for small local business, this is an awful thing.
The shadow banning phenomenon recently made news when American conservatives accused social media platforms like Twitter of shadow banning their profiles, bringing the phrase into the popular lexicon. While Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently told Sean Hannity that “we do not shadowban,” it’s definitely happening to pot businesses on Facebook.
Organizations like the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), Tom Angell’s popular newsletter Marijuana Moment, and even MJ Biz Daily, seem to be victims of shadow banning.
“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,” Rosie Mattio, a PR professional who works closely with the cannabis industry, told MJBizDaily. “A company’s social pages are as important, if not more important, than their website.”
Facebook declined to be quoted by MJ Biz Daily, but they did provide a general statement. MJ Biz Daily summarized like this: “a combination of technology, human review and community report to enforce community standards,” and that “if something was removed that shouldn’t have been, reviewers quickly work to restore it.”
They also added that the company filters many drug-related terms, which could account for the shadow banning of businesses and organizations with ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana’ in their names. However, it also concluded by saying that there was no guarantee of consistency in search results, due to the variety of factors that go into the filtering and community guidelines process.
It would be great to have more transparency from Facebook but at the end of the day we are using their platform and therefore we have to accept their terms and decision no matter what. If you need any help with your social media account, contact us at Highlife Media.