Facebook faces lawsuit over blocking CBD ads

June 17, 2019

CBD digital marketing and SEO agency

Facebook has long been scrutinised over its treatment of CBD business’ and their ability to post advertisements on the social media website. A number of complaints from business owners have arisen after accounts were disabled and deleted for advertising the legal substance. Despite Facebook’s advertising policies making no mention of CBD, a spokesperson confirmed that the product is linked to their policy against ‘drug & drug-related products’.

CBD ‘treated as contraband’

Facebook is currently facing a lawsuit over these enforcement actions in a case that alleges common law fraud, and deceptive practices. The case is being brought forward by Felicia Palmer, founder of hip-hop website SOHH. The social media giant to said to have accepted money from Palmer to extend the reach of her ads for CBD. At first, Facebook allegedly did not show her ads to the users she wanted to reach, before disabling her account completely.

According to Facebook the ad was blocked as “[We] don’t allow ads that promote illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs.”

Founder of Jenerate Wellness, Jen Rudis stressed that the ‘de facto ban’ is nothing new. Back in 2017 Rudis’ entire business account was deleted following a posted picture of a CBD bottle on her shop shelf.

CBD bottle

“I tried to log into Facebook, and my entire account was deleted. Like I didn’t just lose ads. They deleted my entire business account …like hit the delete button,” Rudis says. “No warning, no email. No, ‘you’ve screwed up,’ no 30-day slap on the hand, literally hit the delete button, and my entire business account was gone”, said the owner.

Determined by ‘sole discretion’

As stated in the company’s policy guidelines, their sole discretion allows the popular website to treat CBD in the same way as any other drug or marijuana derivative- such as THC – a surprising policy for those who are familiar with the extract. And, with no public addressment of the issue, there is no way of users knowing whether they are risking an account ban, or deletion from simply advertising a CBD wellness treatment.

Last year’s Farm Bill saw a federal ban lifted on hemp production, which in turn legalised CBD products that contained no more than 0.3% THC.

Facebook faces lawsuit over blocking CBD ads 4

For now, the company [Facebook], seem to be blocking any promoted mention of CBD, which would go far beyond what is required by federal law. Facebook also fails to mention anything specific to CBD in its advertising guidelines, which is what a large majority of business owners check before paying for advertisement.

‘Impact on revenue’

The small business owners also highlighted the impact on their revenue following an account ban or deletion. Lindsey Staffes, who owns a Serenity Spa in Wisconsin, noted that she had spent $42,000 on Facebook in the past two years before her account was disabled.

“I understand they’re a multibillion-dollar company. But for me, for a small, single-storefront business, that’s a huge amount of money”, said Steffes.

Jenerate Wellness founder Rudis, even hired a Facebook consultant to help with her appeal costing her several thousand dollars. However, after 6/7 months the business owner finally decided to start a new Facebook page altogether, taking a year to regain the same number of followers. “As a small business owner, I don’t have deep pockets, I don’t have big box marketing funds. The deletion tremendously impacted our revenue and our entire business, actually, for an entire year”, expressed Rudis.

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