Victory for Speech: Facebook To Allow Marijuana Reform Ads

Flicker: mardi_grass_2010 (CC)

Both the EFF and the ACLU are celebrating a digital victory, after the “politically-neutral” Facebook reversed its rejection of ads by advocacy groups working on marijuana policy reform.

via EFF:

The ads in question showed marijuana leaves, sometimes with photos of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and urged viewers to join campaigns to make marijuana reform an election issue. Several versions of similar Facebook ads were submitted by Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Just Say Now, but both groups were initially rejected. After EFF and the ACLU of Northern California reached out to Facebook about the issue, Facebook did the right thing and restored the ads.

Facebook has publicly established guidelines that state that a Facebook advertisement “may not promote tobacco or tobacco-related products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, tobacco pipes, hookahs, hookah lounges, rolling papers, vaporized tobacco delivery devices and electronic cigarettes.” But the language from the banned ads said simply things like: “Registered to vote? Make your voice heard on historic marijuana ballot measures this November” Another read “Marijuana Reform in 2012 | Obama and Romney are mum on marijuana reform. Learn how to make them start talking.” Rather than advocate for marijuana usage, the banned ads urged users to get involved with fighting for reform.

EFF and the ACLU of Northern California reached out to Facebook to draw more internal attention to the fact that the company was censoring speech that was clearly political in nature. Facebook confirmed that the ads were erroneously rejected, that they do not violate Facebook’s policies, and that they would be quickly reinstated.1 EFF is pleased by Facebook’s prompt action to correct this error and we applaud its ongoing commitment to providing a politically neutral platform for political discussion in the approaching election season. However, given this error, and the need for our intervention, we also urge Facebook to carefully audit its ad review program to ensure that similar legitimate speech is not censored from its network.

Those who have ads rejected are informed by Facebook, and can submit an appeals, but it is not easy without the help of groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Read more here.


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15 Comments on "Victory for Speech: Facebook To Allow Marijuana Reform Ads"

  1. Simiantongue | Aug 16, 2012 at 8:24 pm |

    Yaaay. We sought permission and some corporation decided it’s allowed. It’s a victor… Wait what?

  2. Apathesis | Aug 16, 2012 at 11:12 pm |

    An American protest sign with British spelling.  Interesting.

    • VaudeVillain | Aug 17, 2012 at 12:12 am |

      They’re fashionable Americans, British spellings are to be expected.

      Also they’re stoners, so any spelling even remotely close to correct is pretty damned impressive.

      • Antidisestablishmentarianism | Aug 17, 2012 at 2:18 pm |

        I understand you may have just been trying to make a joke. However, your stereotype is just that, a stereotype. When I was younger I won 3 spelling bee’s while stoned. I also have a PHD.

        Many “stoners” have high IQ’s. If your stupid before you smoke cannabis, your going to be stupid after you smoke cannabis. And it’s the same if your smart. 

        • VaudeVillain | Aug 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm |

          Yes, I was joking. Mostly.

          I used to smoke, but I quit in my late teens/early twenties because I realized it exacerbates my neuroses and anxiety issues. I also realized my intellectual abilities are significantly hampered by using, and that my already tenuous academic habits are completely destroyed: I have enough trouble buckling down to study without spending an hour contemplating the deep philosophical reasons that everybody isn’t my best friend.
          I do know several very smart people who routinely use marijuana with apparently no ill effect. That’s great for them, and I bear them no ill will. Maybe you’re cut from the same cloth, so to speak, and are similarly capable of maintaining your intelligence while using. Good for you.

          I also know a lot of people who were smart, then they started smoking, and now they are idiots. I probably know more of these people than I do the former, and I have trouble believing that using had no ill effect on them. It may not have been the only thing going wrong, it certainly wasn’t in my case, but it most certainly didn’t help the cause.

          So you’re right: it is an ugly stereotype that is far from universally true. In my experience, however, it is a stereotype with a reasonable degree of truth to it.

  3. The image next to the article really gets on my nerves. It makes me laugh but also makes me angry to imagine all of the people that believe(d) Obama would/will decriminalize cannabis. During the 2008 election year he played the young people like a fiddle with that issue. These people want to believe so badly that he isn’t simply another politician (see: liar, manipulator; most likely bought by corporate interests). The human capacity for self-delusion never ceases to amaze.

    • You are correct, he likely will not be good for cannabis laws, but most people would agree that he would be better than Romney. And since we only have two choices…

      • I refuse this round to hold my nose and vote for Obama simply because I fear Romney.  And I’m not going to vote for Paul either.  

        What else can I do?

        edit: I live in New York State, so with the electoral college and all, and this being a solid Obama state, what difference does it make anyway?

        • You can always vote for the candidate that most represents your interests even if that candidate has no chance of winning.

  4. Anyone else feel that we should be using the word “cannabis” (the actual name of the plant) more when discussing this topic? The slang words “marijuana”, “weed”, and “pot” tend to close most people’s minds immediately because of the cultural/societal associations with those words. Methinks it would be a small, subtle but perhaps relatively effective way to help limit the usual instant knee-jerk reaction most people have when someone mentions the issue of decriminalizing cannabis. It may seem like a silly or futile idea, but can it really hurt anything?

  5. Rosaqley0869 | Aug 17, 2012 at 2:35 am |

    I am welcome to the decision for the facebook to allow Marijuana reform ads.

  6. yet another victory in the long march to freedom
    can the right to be left the fuck alone be very far away?

Comments are closed.