After serving up 38 million ads from a group supporting the legalization of marijuana since August 7, Facebook told the group on August 16 that it could no longer use a pot leaf in its ad, since it might promote smoking.
“The image in question was no longer acceptable for use in Facebook ads,” wrote Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes in an e-mail to Wired.com. “The image of a marijuana leaf is classified with all smoking products and therefore is not acceptable under our policies.”
But the Just Say Now campaign contests that Facebook isn’t harshing on their mellow — it’s censoring them, especially given that marijuana legalization is on the ballot in the upcoming election in California. And it’s calling on its supporters — some 6,000 fans on its Facebook page — to swap out their profile picture for an image of a pot leaf with a banned box over it:
The ads were entitled “End the war on marijuana” and called on users to sign a petition asking President Obama to support the right of states to legalize marijuana.
Facebook’s core audience supports drug legalization, according to polls, and a large number of young adults say they are more likely to vote if legalization is on the ballot, according to Jane Hamsher, the co-founder of the Firedoglake blog, whose helping run the campaign in concert with Students for a Sensible Drug Policy.
“We aren’t trying to sell people pot. This is a policy issue,” Hamsher told Wired.com, noting that more than 50 percent of inmates in the federal prison system were there on drug charges and that law-and-order types like former Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein support decriminalization. “The time is right for this and Facebook shutting this down is a real blow when we are trying to open up a conversation…”
“It seems like a decision made to appease somebody’s grandma,” Hamsher said.
More like a decision made to appease some reactionary investor. Or reactionary potential investor.