The social networking website Facebook has refused to run an advertisement for a book that compares the harms and legal status of marijuana and alcohol.
The publisher of “Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?” hoped to use a Facebook ad to promote a special price being offered to celebrate the book’s success, but their proposed ad was denied. In a message sent to the publisher, Facebook said that the “content advertised by this ad is prohibited” because the popular website does “not allow ads for marijuana and any products related to it.”
Facebook also refused to run ads for the marijuana law reform group Just Say Now and the Libertarian Party last year because the ads contained marijuana leaves. “The image of a marijuana leaf is classified with all smoking products and therefore is not acceptable under our policies,” a spokesman for Facebook explained.
“Facebook’s decision, reportedly an attempt to be consistent with its ad policies restricting smoking and/or marijuana-related content, is instead primarily silencing an important, motivated voice in a politically significant debate,” Richard Esguerra of the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation said. “For better or worse, Facebook has become a important means of communication and organization for candidates and political campaigns. In this role, Facebook functions best as a neutral platform, hosting the debate without entering it.”