Facebook To Allow Verified Cannabis Pages
With Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) and Instagram blocked search results for “cannabis” and “marijuana,” companies in the sector were forced to develop strategies to work around the restrictions, as Benzinga reported last month. The social media landscape opened up a bit more for cannabis-related pages this week.
Facebook will now allow results from verified marijuana-related accounts that show up in searches for terms like "cannabis" and "marijuana," according to MarketWatch. The accounts will be marked with Facebook's gray and blue verification symbols.
“We are constantly working to improve our search results so that we minimize the opportunity for people to attempt illicit drug sales while showing content that is allowed on Facebook and is relevant to what you are searching,” Facebook’s Sarah Pollack told MarketWatch.
Pollack told Benzinga Friday that the move does not represent the lifting of a ban.
"I want to clarify that we didn’t lift a ban on searches — in other words, content was available in searches for the terms 'cannabis' and 'marijuana' before Thursday. What we’ve done now is also make pages that are verified for authenticity available in those search results as well."
Why It’s Important
As the legal cannabis industry grows in size — but remains federally illegal in the U.S. — policies such as Facebook's handling of marijuana content are increasingly caught in the push and pull over the status of the drug.
The new search capabilities provide opportunities to find cannabis content for users and investors worldwide on a platform that caters to essentially every demographic.
The changes are part of a continued effort to enforce policies on Facebook's platform, according to MarketWatch. The company intends to test out different enforcement tools going forward.
In order for a cannabis business to receive a check mark on Facebook, it must meet requirements that include providing a publicly listed phone number and submitting a verification code.
Facebook shares were down 0.62 percent at $152.40 at the time of publication Friday.
A screenshot of Facebook in September that shows zero results for a cannabis-related search.
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