Backlash aimed at social media companies over marijuana censorship

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DENVER -- Social media companies are being accused of unfair censorship, blocking anything about laws and policies. Medical and recreational marijuana advertising is banned on TV and most newspapers, even where it's legal.

But Colorado activists say social media discriminates against educating the public when it comes to understanding enforcement of marijuana laws.

Fatal shootings and their aftermath are being stream live almost daily on social media such as Facebook.

"I've been trying to dodge videos of things that it's important to know about but that maybe I don't want to see and those are all over," social media strategist Sarah Bee said. "But we can't share an article about racial disparities about marijuana arrests."

Bee is referring to an article posted by Brian Vicente's law firm and originally reported by BuzzFeed.

"They said that just somewhat absurdly that it was promoting marijuana use when really all we were doing is promoting good information about what's going on on our streets," Vicente said.

Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, media companies are wary of being held liable for pot content.

"It's legal in almost half the U.S. at this point, so they're restricting not only consumers, but also patients from information and from medication," Bee said.

Even though there are Facebook posts, the enforcement appears to target articles that examine marijuana laws or policies.

"Within five hours, I will get a notification from Facebook that it was denied with no real explanation of why," Bee said.

"There are First Amendment issues here, but at the same time, they're a private corporation so arguably they can let anyone on that they want and discriminate against people," Vicente said.

Facebook said it blocks anything that "promotes illegal drugs."

 

It also points out the number of articles on Facebook promoting marijuana use that are not informational or policy-related.

Vicente would like Facebook to change its policy, saying it's "viewpoint discrimination."