And the controversy continues. Today the Libertarian Party says that their Facebook ads were censored too:
In a July 23 email to the LP, a Facebook rep wrote, “We do not allow ads for marijuana or political ads for the promotion of marijuana.”
But Facebook subsequently approved Just Say Now’s ads on August 7.
Margie Wilson-Mars, Salem Libertarian Examiner: “When banning the ads of other groups promoting legalization, Facebook claimed that those ads violated Facebook’s ban on smoking products. The guidelines actually say they do not allow “advertisements promoting tobacco products”. The Libertarian Party ad did not promote the use of marijuana, and obviously, it is not a tobacco product.”
Ryan Grim reports on the Huffington Post that medical marijuana advocates had the same inexplicable “approve then ban” Facebook experience:
Facebook objects to the pot leaf under medical circumstances, as well. As Washington, D.C.’s city council was debating how to write regulations to permit the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana, the District of Columbia Patients’ Cooperative took out Facebook ads to encourage city residents to attend the hearings, the cooperative’s Nikolas Schiller tells HuffPost. Facebook shut it down, though the hearings went on regardless. The ads contained a pot leaf and were, like the others, initially approved and later rejected.
Neil Katz of CBS News notes that “Facebook’s position on the ads is ironic considering the content found on its site. One group called “Marihuana, Marijuana, Mariguana” has 369,000 active monthly users who post photos of bikini clad bong smokers and giant piles of weed. A popular game on Facebook called “Pot Farm” has 740,000 monthly users who enjoy trying grow their own virtual marijuana fields.”
Jordan Smith Austin Chronicle: “Hard to believe Facebook would be so prudish, but here we are. JSN says that their ads have run in other places – including on Google, where the group hasn’t had any problem at all.”
John Hoeffel Los Angeles Times: “Facebook, which is based in Palo Alto, offered shifting explanations for its decision. The Just Say Now campaign said the website informed the campaign last week that the image was not acceptable under its policy on ” smoking products.” But no such policy is included in its advertising guidelines and Facebook did not respond to several requests for the policy.
Jon Bershad Mediaite:”Facebook does reserve the right to ban content from their site and they have in the past. Still, it’s hard to imagine that a cartoon pot leaf connected to a legitimate political movement belongs in the same category as a “Kill Obama” poll. Perhaps John Stossel can stop taking on traffic lights and help out a belief of his that actually has a chance of becoming a reality.”
Grant Gross Reuters: “”We’re not trying to sell pot to people,” said Jane Hamsher, director of Just Say Now. “We’re trying to have a political discussion about U.S. drug policy. In a 2.0 world of online graphics, banning the use of the subject image is not a mature decision about the boundaries of appropriate political discourse. It’s a decision made to appease somebody’s finger-wagging grandparents.”
Janie Lorber New York Times: “Michael Whitney, the group’s online campaign director, said Facebook’s move is akin to striking a candidate’s face from his posters while he’s running for office. Marijuana legalization is on the ballot this November in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and South Dakota. “We are talking about free political speech,” Mr. Whitney said. “We aren’t encouraging people to do anything illegal.””
Kit Eaton Fast Company: “Just like Facebook’s disastrous decision to block images of breast-feeding–an act which is protected as a right under law in many nations–because of concerns about decency, it’s easy to see this as another case of Facebook pushing its U.S.-centric morals on its hundreds of millions of non-U.S. users.”
Scott Morgan Stop the Drug War: “Facebook may be within its rights to choose what it considers appropriate ad content, but attempting to suppress a surging national debate is plainly idiotic. Criticism has erupted across the site and is spreading like wildfire thanks to Facebook’s excellent news-sharing functionality. That’s good news for the Just Say Now campaign, but bad news for Facebook, which would do well not to alienate its massive population of marijuana users and activists.”
Lindsay William-Ross, LAist: Many leaders and members of various politically inclined groups are voicing objection to Facebook’s decision, calling the uber-popular social networking site “out of touch with its customers” and prohibiting a free-speech discussion of an issue that is topical and relevant; in California, for example, voters will take to the polls in just a few months to cast ballots on the issue of marijuana legalization in the state.
Paula Duffy, Huliq: “Don’t think that Facebook’s decision is applauded by college students on the right. The Huffington Post reached out to Young Americans for Freedom for an opinion. “Our generation made Facebook successful because it was a community where we could be free and discuss issues like sensible drug policy. 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, the head of Young Americans for Freedom.”
Cenk Uygur, The Young Turks (video above): “You’re in essence telling your own users, ‘git! git!’If you want to talk about that, go somewhere else.’ You know what, they might just take you up on that.”
You can see the ad Facebook banned, sign the Facebook petition and swap our your Facebook picture for the censored “Just Say Now” image here.