Facebook’s zeal for banning marijuana often made it impossible to find even regulatory agencies and advocacy groups.
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Social media is now a foundation of digital marketing strategy, but it’s a bit difficult to incorporate when the world’s largest social media platform doesn’t allow people to search for your products or services.
That’s been the case with Facebook when it comes to cannabis-related businesses. The social media giant continues to allow people to post fake news at alarming rates, but until recently wouldn’t allow someone to search for marijuana products — even if they are legal in their state.
But that all changed this fall.
About-Face for Facebook
For months, Facebook blocked cannabis-related pages from user search results. The intent was to keep people from selling illegal products through the platform. However, it also led to them blocking such sites as the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and advocacy groups including the Marijuana Policy Project and the National Cannabis Industry Association. According to Market Watch, you also had situations where you could search “MPP” and find the Marijuana Policy Project page, but not if you actually searched for “Marijuana Policy Project.”
Facebook finally decided in October to allow pages that have been verified by Facebook to appear in search results. That process involves an assessment of the company by Facebook and verification standards such as a publicly listed phone number.
Appease the gods.
In Facebook’s defense, it is caught up in a situation that snags many other businesses — marijuana remains illegal at the federal level even as more states legalize it. Banks, for example, won’t extend financial services to marijuana companies.
However, even with the new compromise, issues remain. Cannabrand CEO Olivia Mannix told Cannabis Business Times that it remains difficult to get verified by Facebook. She also said, “The way that I’m interpreting it is that you will be able to search for cannabis-related companies, [but] I don’t know if that’s actually going to alleviate any of the issues with cannabis-related companies getting flagged and shut down.”
Perhaps the most practical outlook came from social media consultant Amy Donahue, who told Cannabis Business Times, “To me, business should be verified on Facebook anyway — that just makes you look more professional. … And if that’s what Facebook wants, then sometimes we have to appease the gods and do what they say.”
Getting verified by Facebook involves supplying proof of business registration, validation of a business address or phone number, and proof of association with your business. Facebook provides a rundown of how to get verified here.