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Why Does Instagram Censor the Cannabis Community?

In the digital age of 2022, social media is powerful and Instagram is one of the undeniable heavyweights in this regard.

While the app started out as a way for people to share photos and not much else, it has since grown into a global tool for brands and businesses to get exposure, share their message and even to make sales – as long as you follow the app’s guidelines.

However, things get a little gray when a social media app starts figuring out what makes a difference and what doesn’t – and if you’re working in the grass, you may be subject to scrutiny. meticulous.

Consumers, operators, advocates, brands and nonprofits are forced to circumvent Instagram’s vague anti-cannabis policies in order to connect with their audiences, and more often than not, they’re shut down anyway. .

Meanwhile, depictions of guns, alcohol, and opioids regularly head to the IG feed with no problem. So why is this?

Instagram Terms and Guidelines around cannabis are the following:

“Instagram does not allow individuals or organizations to use the platform to advertise or sell marijuana, regardless of the state or country of the seller. Our policy prohibits any seller of marijuana, including including dispensaries, promote its business by providing contact information such as phone numbers, email addresses, mailing addresses or by using the “Contact Us” tab in Instagram business accounts. However, we allow people to include a website link in their biographical information.

It reads as clear, concise and fair enough. The app is accessible internationally, and cannabis isn’t even federally legal, so restricting the sale of the plant through Instagram makes perfect sense.

However, Instagram’s policy says nothing about allowing people to post content with cannabis pictures, but the app hasn’t shied away from removing these types of posts without warning, explanation, or opportunity. redemption.

Sneaky shadowbans to deleted posts on fully deleted accounts, Instagram continually attacks the cannabis community, despite most operators adhering to the platform’s only clear rule regarding the plant: don’t try to sell it.

“Instagram will let you build a following and then rip your whole career away and not explain yourself,” said TheWeedTube CEO Arend Richard in an interview. His company’s Instagram profile was deactivated without explanation after he painstakingly created a feed with hundreds of collaborators and creators posting never-sold cannabis content.

“We have no idea why we were removed. We had no warnings, or anything that indicated we violated any terms or conditions.

Richards is certainly not alone in this experience or feeling. Cannabis consultant Veronica Castillo turned to LinkedIn to speak out against Instagram’s unjust attacks, writing:

“I made a comment with a picture of me smoking #cannabis and someone reported it? if I posted with a handful of pills – I’d be celebrated – someone is sponsoring my trip to Mars! I don’t belong here? ppl are really sleepwalkers???

Castillo isn’t wrong: While Instagram is quick to restrict accounts posting plant-related content, the platform has been known to allow posts on the sale of diet pills, laxatives and other extreme diets that are incredibly dangerous and possibly deadly.

Meanwhile, a plant world-renowned for promoting health, well-being and spirituality is repeatedly attacked and censured.

Culture and production manager Daniel Crawford shared his experience on Castillo’s LinkedIn post, commenting:

“One of me and my wife smoking a Jay stating I’ll never forget my friends with weed when I needed it was taken down last week.”

There’s really no way to justify deleting such a post, given that Crawford wasn’t trying to promote a brand of cannabis or persuade his followers to consume the plant, let alone buy a product from him. specific.

So why would it have been removed?

This remains the burning question when it comes to Instagram and cannabis posters, especially those that are just trying to get a following and spread the word about the amazing work they do in the industry.

Cannabis distributor based in Canada Colin Bambbury acknowledges Instagram’s insane restrictions as one of the industry’s biggest headaches.

“Before [the industry expanded]if a cannabis brand was taken down, that was a big deal,” Bambury said in a MJBizDaily Interview.

“And now pretty much everyone I know in the cannabis industry has had an account deleted at some point.”

In the same interview, writer Kate Robertson included that MJBizDaily’s Instagram account was also shut down for a short time in June 2021.

This problem is becoming more and more common, but the most infuriating piece of the puzzle is Instagram’s refusal to provide information on why these accounts and/or posts are actually being targeted in the first place.

While some experts believe the app uses their algorithm to flag cannabis posts via hashtag or type of image, others attribute these repeated attacks to the industry itself, saying brands have become competitive enough to denounce their rivals.

Of course, the answer could be as simple as this: Cannabis is not federally legal. As frustrating as it may be for industry insiders and advocates, it explains why a $100 billion social media platform wouldn’t want to hit the industry with a ten foot pole.

But along the same lines, it is evident that cannabis is gradually moving towards federal legalization in the near future and has definitely established itself as a legitimate industry with plenty of room for expansion.

It would be wise for Instagram to align with the bright future of cannabis sooner rather than later, but just as it’s impossible to understand exactly why the app is removing cannabis-related posts in the first place, it’s hard to imagine. a world where cannabis is truly normalized across all platforms.

In the meantime, the industry must unfortunately continue to find loopholes and protect each other in this regard.

While it makes strategic sense to try to prevent a rival company from reaching a wider audience, the cannabis industry is in a unique position where no one can afford to be too competitive until the plant is completely de-stigmatized and regulated.

Until then, the brands owe it to each other – and the cannabis community as a whole – to join forces rather than try to smash each other before the industry has even reached a point. a percentage of its full potential.

Cannabis still has a long way to go.

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