Facebook advertising has set guidelines as to what is permissible to advertise and how to advertise. The social media giant has to contend with federal rules that outlaw national advertising and ensure that Facebook maintains its family suitable persona. Alaskan dispensaries have apparently not been playing by the rules.
Some Alaska marijuana shops have suddenly found themselves with one less outlet for advertising this week.
Owners and employees of at least six marijuana retail stores in the state said that within the past week, their Facebook pages were either taken down or entirely deleted by the tech company.
At Arctic Herbery, owner Bryant Thorp said his shop’s page was shut down Friday or Saturday. Another Anchorage shop, Enlighten Alaska, also had its page removed from the site about a week ago, said co-owner Jane Stinson. It also happened at Frozen Budz and Pakalolo Supply Co., both in Fairbanks, and Dankorage and Alaska Fireweed in Anchorage.
“(Facebook) has been huge for us. That’s where almost all our advertising comes from,” Thorp said. He’s had issues with his Facebook page for a few months and has since focused on boosting his following on Twitter and Instagram.
Facebook has a set of community standards that dictates what is and isn’t allowed on the platform, said spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja.
“Anyone can report content to us if they think it violates standards,” she said. “Our team reviews reports to determine whether there was a violation.”
On a page explaining those community standards, under a section called “regulated goods,” Facebook says it prohibits “any attempts by private individuals to purchase, sell, or trade prescription drugs, marijuana, firearms or ammunition.”
Marijuana businesses generally have to use caution in advertising, in part because state guidelines for pot ads are somewhat unclear, Alaska Dispatch News reported last year. Facebook — along with other social media platforms — is one of the biggest places for getting the word out about their businesses.
Jana Weltzin, an Anchorage-based attorney who specializes in the marijuana industry, said this is hardly the first time cannabis companies have had issues with Facebook.
“This is not a new thing,” she said, adding that Colorado pot businesses dealt with a similar issue last year. “If you’re doing something that’s illegal and Facebook knows that, they try to not promote that. It’s still illegal under federal law.”