On Monday, Facebook overturned a ban on marijuana policy ads, reports the Electronic Freedom Foundation.
The EFF, along with the ACLU of Northern California, reached out to the social media giant last week, urging executives to reconsider a ban that prohibited marijuana reform advocates from placing ads on the so-called politically neutral site. It turns out that Facebook's ad policy, which forbids promoting "any illegal activity, such as the saie of marijuana," also blocked groups such as Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Just Say Now—groups that used images of pot leaves to promote a political message. Beginning in August 2010, Facebook started yanking ads from the Just Say Now campaign, and later rejected them all together.
Both the EFF and the ACLU caught wind of the story after an online petition calling for an overturn of the ban reached over 15,000 signatures. A couple of discussions with Facebook executives later, and the EFF now reports that pot policy ads will finally run on the website:
EFF and the ACLU of Northern California reached out to Facebook to draw more internal attention to the fact that the company was censoring speech that was clearly political in nature. Facebook confirmed that the ads were erroneously rejected, that they do not violate Facebook's policies, and that they would be quickly reinstated. EFF is pleased by Facebook's prompt action to correct this error and we applaud its ongoing commitment to providing a politically neutral platform for political discussion in the approaching election season. However, given this error, and the need for our intervention, we also urge Facebook to carefully audit its ad review program to ensure that similar legitimate speech is not censored from its network.