Reddit’s Owner Refuses Pot Legalization Ads; Staff Revolts


Graphic: Reality Catcher

​First, there was Facebook’s censorship of marijuana leaves in legalization ads on its social network. Then came Google’s decision to accept and run nearly identical ads. Now, an announcement from social news site Reddit’s corporate owner, Conde Nast, to Just Say Now that it will not run any display advertising relating to marijuana legalization has resulted in an near-insurrection among the site’s users — and administrators, who said they were “blindsided” by the move.

That decision, unlike Facebook’s, pertains not just to images of marijuana leaves, but to any ads supporting legalization of marijuana, according to the “corporate offices” of Reddit’s parent company, Conde Nast.

“We would be allowed to run ads using the site’s self-serve text advertisement tool, but no image or display ads,” explained Michael Whitney of Just Say Now.

​”Just Say Now requested a written explanation of our rejection, which we have not yet received,” Whitney said Friday morning. “I spoke to an advertising representative at Reddit yesterday who informed me of the rejection.”
Like Facebook users, Reddit users are quite into marijuana. There are no fewer than five marijuana-related “sub-reddits,” or Reddit categories dedicated to specific topics and managed by users: TreesMarijuanaWeedCannabis, and Prop 19. On some of those sub-reddits, the “up” and “down” vote arrows are marijuana leaves.
“Earlier this week I requested advertising rates for those sub-reddits, among others, as well as the home page of for our marijuana legalization campaign,” Whitney said. “After seeing the significant attention marijuana issues, and Proposition 19, received on the site, it seemed a natural place to try to advertise for supporters.”

Graphic: Reddit

​”Indeed, Reddit users have been largely supportive of Firedoglake’s coverage and activism around marijuana legalization,” Whitney said. “Many tens of thousands of visits to Firedoglake in the last month have come from Reddit, mostly for our coverage of Prop 19.”
While Reddit itself seemed eager to run ads in support of legalization, Conde Nast overruled the site’s staff, according to Whitney.
“Just Say Now will run text advertisements on Reddit in support of marijuana legalization regardless of Conde Nast’s censorship,” Whitney said. “We’ll also work with the Reddit community to support Prop 19 in 2010, and to pass marijuana legalization across the country in 2012 and beyond.”
Reddit staff, experiencing a near-insurrection from their own users, did a little rebelling of their own against parent company Conde Nast on Friday:

The reddit admins were just blindsided with the news that, apparently, we’re not allowed to take advertising money from sites that support California’s Prop 19 (like this one, for example). There’s a lot of rabble flying around, and we wanted to make some points:

1. This was a decision made at the highest levels of Conde Nast.

2. reddit itself strongly disagrees with it, and frankly thinks it’s ridiculous that we’re turning away advertising money.

3. We’re trying to convince Corporate that they’re making the wrong decision here, and we encourage the community to create a petition, so that your anger is organized in a way that will produce results.

4. We’re trying to get an official response from Corporate that we can post here.

Please bear with us.

: We have a statement from Corporate: “As a corporation, Conde Nast does not want to benefit financially from this particular issue.”

Edit 2
: Since we’re not allowed to benefit financially, reddit is now running the ads for free. Of course, if you turned AdBlock on, you won’t be able to see them. 🙂

The adroit end-around which Reddit staff executed against Conde Nast’s corporate censorship is proving “highly” popular with the social news site’s users. As of 1:50 p.m. Pacific time Friday, the staff’s “reddit’s statement on prop 19 ads” had gotten 2,311 “up” votes on the site.