Social news aggregator Reddit.com today agreed to host for free advertisements from marijuana advocacy group Just Say Now, after Conde Nast, the site’s parent company rejected all marijuana legalization display ads.
The Reddit community revolted to the censorship, with hundreds of users saying they’d turn on “ad blockers” to deny Reddit and Conde Nast ad revenue. After several hours of pressure from community members, Reddit issued a statement to its community and challenged its parent company’s decision.
“Reddit made the right choice to support an open discussion of marijuana legalization,” said Michael Whitney, one of the organizers of Just Say Now, a joint effort of Firedoglake.com and Students for Sensible Drug Policy to organize in support of marijuana legalization initiatives, “While Conde Nast and Facebook think it’s OK to censor marijuana legalization, Reddit knew it was more important to embrace a discussion of the issue, even if it meant foregoing advertising revenue.”
In a statement to its community posted on the site, Reddit’s managers said they were “blindsided with news that, apparently, we’re not allowed to take advertising money from sites that support California’s Prop 19.” Saying that “the decision was made at the highest levels of Conde Nast,” Reddit encouraged its “community to create a petition [to Conde Nast], so that your anger is organized in a way that will produce results.”
Conde Nast issued a one-sentence statement defending its decision, stating: “As a corporation, Conde Nast does not want to benefit financially from this particular issue.”
With Conde Nast dug in, and with hundreds of members of the Reddit community in revolt, the site’s owners took matters into their own hands. A member of Reddit’s staff stated, “Since we couldn’t take their money, reddit is now running free ads in support of prop 19.”
Reddit.com averages more than 5 million people visiting the site per month.
Earlier this week, Just Say Now protested a similar decision by Facebook that banned marijuana leafs from advertisements on the social networking site. Search engine giant Google agreed to run similar advertisements without censoring the image.