It seems that Facebook is unable to decide whether it loathes or loves marijuana. At about this time last year, the social media giant was reported to be silently banning companies that were either advocating for marijuana or selling marijuana products. In October last year, Facebook seemed to have softened its stance when it announced that it would start allowing verified legal cannabis companies to use its platform for marketing or advocacy purposes.
However, all that doesn’t seem to have become a reality since many cannabis companies still complain that their content is flagged. Now seven Oklahoma medical marijuana dispensaries have decided enough is enough and have sued Facebook on the matter.
Danna Malone and her dispensary Ye Olde Apothecary Shoppe were the first to go to court alleging that Facebook, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the COO Sheryl Sandberg and Peter Thiel (executive team member) had placed the dispensary in what they called “Facebook jail” and prevented the legal business from posting about its shops and products.
This first lawsuit was filed in May this year. On July 18, six other medical cannabis dispensaries joined Ye Olde Apothecary Shoppe as plaintiffs in this particular case. The complaints of the additional dispensaries were similar to those of Danna Malone.
When a profile or page is taken to “Facebook jail,” that particular profile or page is temporarily disabled by the platform as a result of a perceived violation of any of the Facebook standards. The seven medical marijuana dispensaries in Oklahoma that assert that Facebook put them in “Facebook jail” want the social media giant to be compelled by court to stop blocking these businesses from promoting their shops on this platform.
The companies are also demanding for a total of $75,000 as damages for the economic losses that they have suffered as a result of Facebook’s actions.
Additionally, the plaintiffs are requesting court to compel the defendants to meet the legal fees of the plaintiffs if the seven dispensaries decide to engage an attorney to argue their case.
The petition of the plaintiffs states that “Facebook has an arbitrary, discriminatory and subjective policy which is archaic and doesn’t apply uniformly to all.” The seven dispensaries also claim that the implementation of that policy appears to be random and there is no one at the platform who can be contacted if someone or a business has a concern.
The plaintiffs say the people at Facebook “hide behind their keyboards” while deciding the punishments they should mete out upon those they feel have contravened one of their subjectively defined community standards.
The lawsuit states that on the surface, it appears that Facebook isn’t sanctioning companies in states, such as California, Washington and Oregon, which have legalized recreational marijuana.
Industry watchers believe that this case will be followed closely by cannabis industry players like Canopy Rivers Inc. (TSX.V: RIV) (OTC: CNPOF) and Chemistree Technology Inc. (CSE: CHM) (OTCQB: CHMJF) since it could open the floodgate of lawsuits by marijuana companies that feel aggrieved with the platform in different jurisdictions.
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