Cannabis cleanse? Why big tech is giving pot businesses the boot
YouTube and others are erasing the accounts of marijuana brands, limiting their ability to advertise themselves
Neither Google nor Facebook, the two most important internet companies, accepts marijuana advertising and both have been known to erase cannabis-related accounts without warning. Both companies say they want to allow discussions around the drug but not facilitate commerce. While attitudes about cannabis have been changing, it remains illegal almost everywhere they reach.
That approach has created problems for the marijuana companies trying to get their brand out.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is the dominant platform in the cannabis world. It’s where aficionados go to discover the latest pipes, the dankest crops and endless memes of cartoon characters getting high. For those in the know, Instagram can also be a place to search for unsanctioned cannabis markets.
Facebook and the cannabis industry have more or less reached a detente where companies can post but not advertise. But there are exceptions, and enforcement can be spotty or arbitrary. A Facebook spokesperson said the company has been cracking down on opiate sales, which has probably resulted in a “shadow ban” that can make cannabis-related pages harder to find through Facebook searches, including those from mainstream media sources and government agencies.
The lack of receptiveness from Facebook and Google is a serious concern for pot companies, which are limited in their access to traditional advertising through print media, radio, television and billboards.