Social Media Kettle Calling The Pot Black
In this last week, both Condé Nast and Mark Zuckerberg have censored "Just Say Now' marijuana ads for both the Reddit and Facebook social networks. The ads support the passage of California's Proposition 19, which would largely legalize the use of marijuana in the state.
While Condé Nast's official rejection of the advertisements were based on the mega-publishing house not wanting to "financially benefit from this issue," Facebook took what they thought was a more politically-correct approach by claiming their network's terms of services does not "promote tobacco product."
Both entities has incurred the wrath of their users in the form of petitions and negative press. Reddit's staff escalated the debate by taking an extreme measure. In what might be deemed as insubordination, they aired their displeasure with their parent company's decision by going public. The mini-rebellion came in the form of a blog posting and actually running the ads for free, in defiance of Condé Nast's dictum.
Facebook users and "Just Say Now" campaign supporters, on the other hand felt that since their ads had run more than 38 million times, Facebook was hypocritical in flip-flopping on the issue.
In turn they issued the following statement:
Readers who would like to sign this petition can go here.
And if so inclined, you can support the cause by purchasing their store merchandise here.
Adam Noyes, a spokesman for Facebook said that the problem was the image of the "pot leaf," which according to the powers-to-be have associated pot with "smoking products" (in general) and therefore unacceptable under our policies."
As questioned in a FDL report: "Just what kind of devious, subversive ad ran 38 million times on Facebook? See for yourself. These are the ads Facebook saw fit to censor…"
What's most disconcerting about both Condé Nast and Facebook taking their anti-ad position - is not so much who is "for" or "against" the use of marijuana - but more so on their decision to censor an issue that is so important to a large populace of people.
According to Jordan Marks, of the Young America's Foundation and member of Just Say Now's advisory board, by Facebook "by suppressing freedom of speech" they are essentially blocking the open discussion of a critical issue.
“Facebook’s business will suffer if they don’t reverse this decision” says Aaron Houston, Executive Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, whose organization has over 150 chapters on campuses across the country. “We’re way beyond reefer madness and censorship. Facebook should get with the times.”
So while this debate continues to rage through the blogosphere, please let us know your take on this issue? Is this form of censorship acceptable or is this the beginning of a new chapter of Big Brother?