Exclusive: Facebook stops blocking marijuana search results ahead of Canadian legalization
Published on Oct 9, 2018
Earlier this year Facebook made a major change to it's search function by beginning to filter out searches related to cannabis. While the intention was to hault illicit sales that were taking place on the social network they also filtered out many legitimate state legal businesses, government entities, and advocacy and industry groups purely because the word cannabis or marijuana was in their name. While medical and recreational cannabis remains illegal in the U.S., Canada has had a federally legal medical marijuana program for some time now and facebook users in Canada would not be able to even find the Ontatio Cannabis Store which is the government run shop in Canada's most popular province. Their search filter was not only hurting potential advocates here in the U.S. but it was hurting legitimate patients looking for legitimate information from their government in places like Canada. Next week Canada officially legalizes recreational cannabis nationwide and after months of these hurtful search filters it seems that the ban on marijuana has finally come to an end on facebook, but not without regulation. Marijuana-related searches on the social network will now be limited to any page that has a gray or blue verification symbol that has been approved by facebook. Legitimate brands, medica companies, public figures, businesses and organizations should not have many problems receiving one of these checkmarks when inputting a phone number and working through an automated call from facebook.
“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 spokeswoman Sarah Pollack said in an emailed statement to MarketWatch. “When searching ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana,’ Pages that have been verified for authenticity will now be included in search results.”