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This is just one reason I'm so leery of Internet faddism:

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 25, 2010

Contact: Wes Benedict, Executive Director
E-mail: wes.benedict@lp.org
Phone: 202-333-0008 ext. 222


Libertarian Party protests Facebook censorship of its marijuana legalization ad

WASHINGTON - The Libertarian Party (LP) is protesting the decision by Facebook to refuse advertisements that advocate for the legalization of marijuana.

The LP had been running a highly successful Facebook ad to express its support of marijuana legalization, but Facebook banned the ad about a week after accepting it.

A sample of the banned LP ad appears below:

In a July 23 email to the LP, a Facebook rep wrote, "We do not allow ads for marijuana or political ads for the promotion of marijuana."

The LP asserts that its ad is not intended to promote marijuana itself, but rather to take a position on the high-profile political question of legalizing marijuana. The issue is particularly relevant now, as a major marijuana legalization measure (Proposition 19) will be on the ballot in California this November.

Wes Benedict, Executive Director of the LP, commented, "Whether or not the folks at Facebook like marijuana, we think they should end their ridiculous censorship of our ad, which expresses the Libertarian position on a political issue of interest to many people."

Benedict continued, "We recognize Facebook's right to control their content and censor whoever they want. But we're also exercising our First Amendment right to complain about their bad decision, and to alert other consumers to put pressure on them."

On July 15, Facebook notified the LP that it had accepted the ad. Then, on July 22, Facebook revoked its approval, stating that "The image of this ad is either irrelevant or inappropriate."

Recently, the LP learned that Facebook revoked approval of similar ads from other groups, including Just Say Now and the District of Columbia Patients' Cooperative, claiming that their ads violated Facebook's ban on images of "smoking products." The LP notes that Facebook's ad guidelines prohibit "advertisements promoting tobacco products," but that the Libertarian ad does not promote the product itself, and that it is not a tobacco product.

Kyle Hartz, the LP's Development & New Media Assistant, said, "Our ad is targeted to people who have indicated that they are interested in the issue of marijuana legalization. It's bizarre that Facebook won't allow us to advertise to the very people who support what we are advocating."

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It's true, paper media can censor this way too, but I think there's been a tendency for Internet sites to be more "ansty" about controversial material. Sometimes, with the automated method of "flagging" even the "wrong word" can get a message blocked. I know. I have quite a few examples of it having happened to me. Is the Internet becoming like television? Gradually converging on a purely homogenized and politically correct view? Sure, if you're tech-savvy you can circumvent it. But techno-dummies like me can't, and the "controversial" views of the tech-savvy can be narrow themselves. This is just one reason I think paper media is so important for marginals like me. It's not quite so "Quick and Easy!" to "delete".

JND

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