Facebook said that it has ended its behind-the-scenes ban of search results for cannabis-related terms, MarketWatch reports.
Facebook had shadow-banned any search results that included the terms cannabis or marijuana. The ban was established silently, without informing users or pages that may be affected. First noticed at the beginning of August, the ban had extended to not just posts but also business pages, events, and even government offices who had been tasked with regulating legal cannabis industries.
Facebook now claims the ban was to prevent people from selling cannabis via their platform.
“We are constantly working to improve our search results so that we minimize the opportunity for people to attempt illicit drug sales while showing content that is allowed on Facebook and is relevant to what you are searching. When searching ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana,’ Pages that have been verified for authenticity will now be included in search results.” — Sarah Pollack, spokesperson for Facebook, via MarketWatch
Facebook now requires any pages displayed in searches for cannabis content to be verified. There are two tiers of verification available — blue and gray. Blue verification markers are designated for major brands, media companies, and public figures. Gray verification, however, can be obtained by nearly any page with a public phone number, after a brief vetting process.
The spokesperson for Facebook said the company will continue to evolve its strategies for policing content on the platform. More changes to search results are expected, especially for non-page items like videos.