Like children growing up and realizing just how much of the big, big world is beyond their mother’s protective embrace, internet users are becoming increasingly aware of just how much Facebook steers what we all do on a daily basis. Privacy scandals and Russian election meddling are making it obvious that social media’s age of innocence is over, but that control extends to other interests too, like cannabis.
The extent of their reach becomes visible when Facebook giveth and taketh away. This time, Facebook giveth us access to marijuana. Facebook has finally opened its doors to marijuana entrepreneurs, announced Forbes. Until last week, Forbes said, Facebook restricted cannabis-related pages from appearing in users search results, effectively making them invisible to the billions of Facebook users across the world. Now Facebook will share cannabis businesses, but require them to be “verified” in their system, showing a blue or grey verification badge to express that Facebook has confirmed these pages belong to “genuine” organizations or businesses. The consumer protection benefits are obvious, weeding out the spam from the good stuff, as long as Facebook uses its power responsibly.
"It is encouraging to see Facebook taking a more nuanced look at the cannabis industry, distinguishing between illicit drug deals and legitimate businesses operating in the space,” the Director of Research, Bethany Gomez, of cannabis market research firm Brightfield Group, said in response.
The move gives cannabis industry players access to vast consumer markets they didn’t have before. “Most traditional channels are shut off to us” cannabis executive Erik Knutson, chief executive of Keef Brands said.
This is especially true considering Facebook’s dominance, along with Google, in the advertising industry. Allowing ads is the logical next step for Facebook after opening up the abilities to search. "Creating a strategically sound digital marketing campaign in any industry always begins and ends with Google and Facebook Ads,” said Dustin Iannotti, co-founder of the Artisans on Fire cannabis marketing agency. “Cannabis brands have had to deal with barriers to this type of marketing since the birth of the industry.” However, there’s no word from Facebook on that, yet.