Facebook to allow cannabis searches ahead of Canada’s adult-use legalization

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Social media giant Facebook will stop blocking marijuana-related searches, including those for legitimate businesses with the word “cannabis” or “marijuana” in the name, MarketWatch reported.

The move, which ends a monthslong block on cannabis and related search results, is expected to help marijuana businesses engage with consumers via social media.

Facebook’s unexpected decision comes ahead of next week’s historic launch of Canada’s recreational marijuana market.

The move affects all “verified” businesses, not just those in Canada.

“When searching ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana,’ pages that have been verified for authenticity will now be included in search results,” Facebook spokeswoman Sarah Pollack wrote in an emailed statement to MarketWatch. 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Over the past year, Facebook has filtered out searches for the two terms, Pollack said, because the site was being used to sell marijuana, which violated the company’s policies.
  • The phenomenon was called “shadow banning,” in which posts on an online social community such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram were invisible to users searching for them. MJ firms, advocacy groups and regulators were caught up in the fallout.
  • Under Facebook’s new policy, businesses with a verified blue or gray check mark will now show up in search results.
  • Searching for a company like Marijuana Business Daily now directs users straight to the media company’s homepage, whereas in the past no search results would appear.