Red Wing man’s ads for hemp clothing censored by Facebook and Instagram
RED WING — John Anderes has been in the outdoor retail industry for over 20 years and has never had a problem with the promotional products he creates online so far.
Anderes’ latest shirt design is made from eucalyptus and hemp fiber textiles, and it is this second fiber that is banned from advertising on social media giants Facebook and Instagram.
“I combined these two materials so that you get strength and many other attributes from it. It’s also the softness of the shirt, it’s soft right away. It’s kind of the magic of my tuning” , Anderes said of the choice of textiles for his new shirt.
The shirt itself is still not for sale in the outdoor retail market. Anderes is still negotiating with retailers for inventory deals to get the shirt in their stores.
The problem for Anderes is that social media platforms, owned by Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, flag posts promoting the sale or use of illegal or recreational drugs, or other substances, dangerous products or supplements.
Meta’s policy on these products states: “Ads must not promote dangerous supplements, including but not limited to anabolic steroids, chitosan, comfrey, dehydroepiandrosterone, ephedra, and hormones of human growth Drug paraphernalia, such as bongs, rolling papers, and vaporized delivery devices.
Meta’s policy does not state a clear message about advertising hemp-related products that are not consumable. The breadth of Meta’s algorithms on Facebook and Instagram hammered away any type of product containing the word hemp, even if the product is not a consumable.
This has lumped Anderes in with other companies, advocacy groups, or individuals who attempt to advertise any non-consumable hemp product on Facebook or Instagram. Alyssa Erickson, public affairs and marketing coordinator for the nonprofit US Hemp Roundtable, shared how social media censorship is a “little man” trying to advertise her product on these platforms.
“With Roundtable, all of our ad accounts have been disabled, and I can’t advertise or do anything on social media, Facebook, or Instagram,” Erickson said. “We are a non-profit business organization. The last thing we tried to boost on Facebook and Instagram a year and a half ago was actually a webinar for minority-owned businesses and small businesses. We were flagged by algorithms and we couldn’t even promote that.”
The American Hemp Roundtable based in Lexington, Ky., is a coalition that represents dozens of companies and organizations working to educate the public and consumers about safe hemp products and of CBD. The nonprofit currently works with advocacy groups in 10 different states, including Minnesota.
When Anderes and Erickson followed Facebook and Instagram on these flags, they both quickly realized they weren’t talking about these complaints to real human beings behind computers. They were talking to bots, which made it all the more frustrating for them to find solutions to these flags and censorship.
“Some of these chats are bots and it’s very difficult to find office numbers for Facebook,” Anderes said. “Trying to get someone from any big company you end up setting aside at least an hour to strike up a conversation. It takes forever and bad customer service is rewarded as you give up and go fuck it all up.” I’m not going to contest the charge, it’s not worth 25 bucks to keep trying to contest.
Erickson explained that bots are just the automatic responses. And while the organization was able to get one of its minority empowerment seminar ads approved, it was an arduous process for each ad.
“There are only a limited number of times you can reach out to these types of contacts, and they didn’t appear to have connections to help remove restrictions on our account,” Erickson said.
At this time, there is no solution in sight for Anderes and the US Hemp Roundtable regarding hemp product advertising, advocacy and information on Facebook and Instagram without censorship. .
Anderes has started to divert his social media advertising to Tik Tok in hopes that there will be less censorship issues for his new shirt.
Erickson says the US Hemp Roundtable hopes the restrictions will be lifted this year, but doesn’t expect that to happen anytime soon. Until then, the American Hemp Roundtable will campaign through Google and direct web traffic from there.