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Israel’s Pro-Cannabis Party Plans to Sue Facebook Over Blocked Political Ads

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Israel’s pro-cannabis party Green Leaf (Ale Yarok) are threatening Facebook with a lawsuit after the social media giant took down one of their publicity campaigns.

Last October. Green Leaf attempted to run some 15 ads on Facebook. Some of those ended up getting blocked by Facebook because the social media platform believed they encouraged drug use, according to Green Leaf lawyer Dekel Ozer. However, Facebook ultimately allowed the ads to run and instead found another way to block the content.

Ten days before the campaign ended, Facebook suddenly decided to delete the account created for the campaign, telling me that they didn’t like my business model,” Ozer told Ynetnews. So…we opened a new account with material advocating for the Green Leaf Party, and Facebook blocked that account as well.”

Ozer says he believes Facebook chose to simply take down the accounts versus blocking the ads in an attempt to avoid litigation. Facebook, he says, seems to be entirely against the legalization of marijuana and their interference in Green Leaf’s marketing could seriously hurt their standings in the upcoming April election.

Facebook isn’t interested in advancing legalization,” he said. It is apparently an internal policy. In addition, as a technology company, it is easier for them to act square and the moment they see the word cannabis — they just block it.” 

Ozer and Green Leaf are now working with the Clinic on Digital Rights and Human Rights in Cyberspace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to convince Facebook to allow their accounts and advertisements to continue to run. They are also seeking $13,375 USD in damages and a promise that the party’s ads campaigns will not be blocked in the future.

Over the past year, Facebook has been in the news a number of times, both for its attempts to hide the pages of state-licensed marijuana businesses and government agencies, as well for blocking pro-cannabis posts made by politicians.

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