ADOTAS – Listen, you dirty hippies: Facebook doesn’t wanna run your pro-legalization display ads. It ain’t down with your THC consumption or your tie-dye or your free love or your patchouli stink. It’s a family social network that only runs family-friendly advertising — like beer and liquor ads, products the family can enjoy together (especially when forced to gather for holidays).
Or it maybe Facebook will run your pot ads until the ad team changes its mind, which is what happened with Just Say Now’s recent campaign promoting changing the nation’s marijuana laws.
According to Just Say Now board member Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake, Facebook ran its ads the ads for 10 days and served up 38 million impressions before suddenly reversing approval of the ad. “The image of a pot leaf is classified with all smoking products and therefore is not acceptable under our policies,” Spokesperson Andew Noyes wrote.
Say wha? Marijuana can be ingested in many forms! You ever heard of a tobacco brownie? But it’s more straightforward than that — Facebook’s ad policy mentions “tobacco products,” not “smoking products.” Bit of a semantic issue there…
Oh, but it gets more interesting: The Libertarian Party ran into the same hassle back in July surrounding an ad with a big ol’ pot leaf and a Facebook representative wrote to the political group:
“We reserve the right to determine what advertising we accept, and we may choose to not accept ads containing or relating to certain products or services. We do not allow ads for marijuana or political ads for the promotion of marijuana and will not allow the creation of any further Facebook Ads for this product.”
So wait… Which is it? Marijuana falls under the smoking product ban or in general Facebook doesn’t run ads related to Mary Jane? If it’s the latter, why did the Just Say Now campaign ever get approved? (Although technically Just Say Now was propagating a change in federal drug policy, not promoting the use of marijuana — semantics again.) Why isn’t the marijuana ban in the ad policy?
Just Say Now is screaming censorship and is inviting users to sign a petition and give Facebook a piece of their minds. Though I don’t think it’s censorship, it is another case of inconsistency in Facebook advertising policy. It reminds me that back in March, the ad team introduced a horribly arbitrary evaluation system for targeted ads that created headaches for local and affiliate marketers.
But with 500 million users and the recently introduced “Places” location-based services, there’s no viable alternative to advertising on Facebook in terms of reach and targeting. Advertisers can sympathize with disgruntled users on that account — perhaps split a spliff?