23 January 2022 |

The Censorship Of Cannabis Content In 2022

By Matthew O'Brien

DEEP DIVE

The Censorship Of Cannabis Content In 2022

Breaking down the censorship of cannabis content on social media in 2022…

The Past…

Social media platforms have become the public squares of the modern era.

Whereas once, a person would go to the public square to bring attention to an important issue. Today, in 2022 all of these conversations are taking place online.

(The past vs the present)

There are many benefits to using these platforms, such as the ability to reach an audience well beyond the confines of the geographical area you live in.

For example this newsletter is read by people living in 18+ countries around the world today, and the majority of the people reading The Green Paper have discovered it through social media channels.

Nonetheless, there are trade-offs to using these social media platforms.

One such trade-off is that these platforms can simply remove any & all content that doesn’t align with their values.

As such, these social media platforms have inherited the power to determine the subjects society can discuss, and consequently the subjects we cannot discuss in public forums.

The Present…

Of the 195 sovereign nations that exist today, cannabis is currently legal for adult use purposes in just 3 — Canada, Uruguay & Malta, with Mexico on track to finally legalize adult use cannabis sometime in 2022.

Additionally, cannabis is legal for adult use purposes in 18 States, however, importantly cannabis remains illegal on a federal level in the United States today.

This is a very important point in this conversation, as many of the largest social media platforms in the world are located in the U.S, and have their stocks listed on U.S stock exchanges — primarily the NYSE.

(U.S based social media platforms)

The good:

Currently, Twitter & Snapchat have taken the initiative to work with Canadian cannabis companies that operate in the legal market, with LinkedIn and Reddit both allowing cannabis content to circulate on their platforms.

Reddit— 430 million monthly active users.

Twitter — 199 million monthly active users.

LinkedIn — 310 million monthly active users.

Snapchat — 306 million monthly active users.

The bad:

Unfortunately, two of the largest social media platforms in the world today have chosen to continuously remove cannabis related content from their platform, in addition to refusing to work with legal cannabis companies.

Instagram — 1+ billion monthly active users.

Facebook — 2.89 billion monthly active users.

That’s not to say that all cannabis related content is removed from Facebook & Instagram, however, all too frequently both content creators and cannabis companies have their accounts banned & content deleted.

Two recent examples:

  1. Vera Twomey, the Irish medical cannabis activist who won the Irish person of the year award in 2018 has reported that both her Facebook & Instagram accounts have been taken down.
  2. Alice Moon, a cannabis Social Media expert highlighted the extent to which she has to go in order to avoid having her content being taken down by Instagram.

The Future…

If we would like to live in a world whereby all adults are provided access to cannabis products, then educating the public at large on the safety profile of cannabis and its medicinal properties is the means to this end.

The ability to leverage social media platforms to educate the public on cannabis is an essential component of our collective ability to turn this dream into our shared reality, however, it won’t come easy.

As large as the cannabis industry is today, it remains so small in the eyes of companies such as Facebook that they feel as though they have the means to block our attempts to educate the public — without consequences.

It’s our job to ensure this does not remain the case, and the onus is on the cannabis industry to succeed despite these constraints.

Glass Half Full…

Combating the decades of misinformation that resulted in the prohibition of cannabis will not be resolved overnight.

Granted, the cannabis industry does not have the same level of access to the social media platforms that just about every other industry has access to today, however, in 2022 there are alternatives available to have our voices heard.

For starters, cannabis companies & cannabis activists have the means to use mediums such as email & podcasts — channels that are almost impossible to censor courtesy of the open source standards they have adopted.

Additionally, we have the means to use platforms that are actually interested in having open conversations related to cannabis such as Twitter, Reddit & LinkedIn as opposed to investing our time into platforms such as Facebook & Instagram.

Closing Comments…

We can debate why platforms such as Facebook & Instagram have chosen to censor cannabis content, or we can focus on educating the public such that the success of the cannabis industry becomes an inevitability.

In 2022, I have personally made the decision to focus on the latter.

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”

― George R.R. Martin.

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