Facebook has banned the ads of anti-prohibition group Just Say Now, a campaign for marijuana legalization. Just Say Now ran ads that showed their logo, which uses a marijuana leaf. Despite the ad running more than 38 million times, Facebook has flip-flopped and starting censoring the ads, claiming they promote “tobacco products.”
“In a nutshell, they allowed us to serve our ads for 10 days (38 million impressions), then suddenly reversed their approval and told us we could no longer show the image of a marijuana leaf,” said Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake and the Just Say Now advisory board.
“They said they decided to reclassify it as similar to tobacco, but we said we weren’t trying to encourage people to smoke marijuana, we were supporting a change in U.S. drug policy,” Hamsher said, reports Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing.
|Jane Hamsher: “We weren’t trying to encourage people to smoke marijuana; we were supporting a change in US drug policy”|
”Facebook is censoring marijuana,” said Michael Whitney of Firedoglake, a major sponsor of the Just Say Now campaign.
“We’re fighting back against Facebook’s censorship with a massive campaign to call out the social networking site,” Whitney said.
“Sign our petition to Facebook to protest censoring marijuana as political speech,” Whitney said. “We’ll send the petition to Facebook and call attention to the popular support for opening a discussion about our country’s failed drug policies.
Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for Facebook, claimed the problem is the pot leaf featured in the ads, reports Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post.
“It would be fine to note that you were informed by Facebook that the image in question was no long[er]acceptable for use in Facebook ads,” Noyes told Just Say Now in an email to the group.
|Photo: The 463|
|Andrew Noyes, Facebook: “The image of a pot leaf is classified with all smoking products and therefore is not acceptable under our policies”|
”The image of a pot leaf is classified with all smoking products and therefore is not acceptable under our policies,” Noyes said.
Two of the ads in question read “End the war on marijuana,” asking Facebook users to “Sign the petition to President Obama to support states’ rights to legalize marijuana.”
Another ad says “Legalize marijuana” and “It’s time to Just Say Now to marijuana legalization. Sign up to show your support.”
All three ads use variations of the Just Say Now logo with a marijuana leaf.
“We’re not running ads encouraging Facebook users to smoke pot, tobacco, or to drink alcohol,” Whitney said. “We are clearly advocating for a political issue that will be voted on in Facebook’s home state in less than three months.”
“If we can’t use the most recognizable image to organize supporters in favor of marijuana legalization, it’s essentially like being banned from showing our candidate’s face in an election,” Whitney said.
|Michael Whitney, Firedoglake: “We are clearly advocating for a political issue”|
”Facebook’s censorship of this political issue only advances the failed drug policies of our country by blocking an open discussion of these critical issues,” Whitney said. “Marijuana legalization is on the move, but Facebook wants to block the issue.”
“If Facebook censorship policies continue to reflect those of our government by suppressing freedom of speech then they won’t have to wait until Election Day to be voted obsolete,” said Jordan Marks of the Young America’s Foundation and a member of the Just Say Now advisory board.
Aaron Houston, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and also a Just Say Now board member, echoed those sentiments.
“Facebook’s business will suffer if they don’t reverse this decision,” Houston said.
“We’re way beyond reefer madness and censorship,” Houston said. “Facebook should get with the times.”