Facebook now allows cannabis companies to show up in their user’s search results

Published Mar 1, 2019 12:00 p.m. ET

One full week before marijuana legalization for recreational use was to take effect in Canada; Facebook officially announced that they would end the several month’s long block on any cannabis related results showing up in user searches that were done on the platform. Up until then all weed associated posts and pages were managed with a filter that would keep them from being found when searched for, and even from showing up in news feeds. The changes were implemented in 2017 when far too many users began using the website as a storefront to sell illegal cannabis, and several local police departments started to put pressure on the company to hinder such uses of the platform.

So what’s changed?

When the filter was in effect, no one would find weed related pages, businesses, posts, or companies based on an aggressive algorithm put in place to effectively block them from view. The only way a person could view those posts or pages would be to know either the link to the page or the exact name of the page to pay a visit to their content manually. Now that marijuana legalization is in place, there is no longer the need for such policies which has opened the doors to regular user privileges like being seen as well as company-oriented features like sponsors ads or posts. When a Facebook user searches for a cannabis-themedgroup or content, they will now see both blue and grey icons to separate the marijuana terms from those deemed otherwise. Before the reversal of Facebook's filter users couldn’t even find legitimate legal cannabis sources like the government's official online storefrontslike the Ontario Cannabis Store. Legal marijuana advocacy groups were also muted making organizing of essential fundraising and functional events nearly impossible in today’s age of social media. Even licensed producers of both recreational and medical marijuana were blocked from searches. Now all legitimate companies and groups will be given special priority.

What to know moving forward

Facebook will now be implementing a two-tiered system that any weed related posts will be divided into. Companies and individuals who are conducting legal activities such as events, content, or sales will now be given a chance to apply for an official blue seal. Users will now be able to see which organizations have proven their legality through search results as they will sport a bright blue badge of approval from Facebook. This will help those who are confused as to which sources are legal to buy from and help to build confidence in customers purchasing abilities. Pages and or posts that are tagged with a grey icon are not necessarily illicit; they just have not passed the platforms test to prove they hold that status. Remember, if you are making any sort of purchase it will always be safe to choose a blue icon company. This label can now also be applied to growers, meaning individuals can take photos of their own cannabis plants and garner a following without repercussion on Facebook.

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