It’s 2020, the longest year of our lives. My country is divided as ever, or at least since 1970, when the National Guard shot four Kent State students for protesting the Vietnam War.
The media, truth, science, and the American way are under attack. Law enforcement continues to target people of color, and our citizens walk down the street with loaded M-16 assault rifles.
Currently, our government is suing Google for monopolizing search. Facebook, Twitter, and Google executives all plead for their business models in front of Congress, waving the First Amendment flag, while claiming freedom of speech and press. The data they deliver to their clients has become more valuable than gold. Based on our internet searches, various algorithms determine what we are shown, and also determine what is appropriate and what is not. Now that the consumer is in charge of when and how they receive information, the rules of commercial media have changed. I’m just not sure that’s a positive development of modern society.
First, let’s start with the basic business model for all media, defined as a conduit for information. The content is created and distributed by media, driving listeners and viewers. That audience is monetized on a cost per thousand bases. Advertisers pay for demographic information of users of social media to drive the consumer they want to reach with their product or service. Both social and traditional media have made billions of dollars with this model. More audience means more money. It’s capitalism at its core.
However, now, with smartphones attached to us, we are constantly being influenced by social media. Traditional media has become splintered between fake and real news, censorship rearing its ugly head because of the power technology has become in this world. The Social Dilemma, adocumentary on Netflix, shares how Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram have impacted human behaviors and continue to influence our thoughts.
Two years ago, on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper also told us about “brain hacking”, and the control these social media companies have on us. (link)60 Minutes on Brain Hacking
What does this have to do with cannabis or even Pro Cannabis Media? Amazingly, more than you think.
In January 2018, then US Attorney General Jeff Sessions repealed the Cole Memo that was crafted during the Obama administration, Cole Memo rescinded by Sessions which had been designed to protect cannabis businesses from the Federal Government’s interference in legal states. Four months later, YouTube purged its site of all cannabis-related videos without any notice. Coincidence? I think not! It was censorship! Max Simon, the CEO and founder of Green Flower, one of the nation’s leading educational online sites, called it exactly that in my recent interview with him on In The Weeds with Jimmy Young. In The Weeds with guest Max Simon (We also talk about this with a Financial Law expert Ashley Elsner of Arterypay.com, a Venmo service for cannabis in our next edition of In The Weeds.)
Over the past year, Pro Cannabis Media has also been victimized by censorship on Facebook and YouTube. Understandably, these companies try to rid themselves of hate speech and conspiracy theories. But while these companies take plenty of advertising from alcohol companies, gun manufacturers, and big pharma, when it comes to cannabis, their AI robots identify content “…that encourages or promotes violent or dangerous acts that have an inherent risk of serious or physical harm or death. For example, it’s not ok to post videos showing drug abuse, underage drinking, and smoking or bomb-making. The only depictions of such activities that may be allowed need to be educational or documentary in nature and shouldn’t be designed to help or encourage others to imitate them.”
All of our content is designed to educate the public about the plant Cannabis Sativa. Factual videos about a plant are not dangerous but are educational. Start with the fact that cannabis is a plant, not a drug. Even though the Federal Government still classifies it as a Schedule I drug, this classification is now being challenged. Our interview on March 13th with Hillary King, who was stricken with the flu and denied a COVID-19 test by Mass General Hospital, ended up being taken down because her story exposed a flaw in the system and was picked up by major media, including the NY Times.
Just two weeks ago, Facebook wouldn’t allow us to boost our proof of performance video. While the video was pro-cannabis, it certainly did not push any products or illegal services. We are telling the true stories of the cannabis industry, a business that will create jobs and local taxes. This, in turn, will help offset the recession that this pandemic has created.
This is the only communication you receive from these social media sites, and you have no right to appeal, let alone a human to appeal to. These social media companies are trying to do the right thing, but their definition of that right thing is tied to profits and their business models. Or too reliant on so-called Artificial Intelligence tools.
We think that this censorship is another example of the inherent bias social media has toward cannabis. Pro Cannabis Media will continue to battle the stigma that follows this plant by continuing to educate the public through our content. We will talk about the benefits of this plant, but we will also not shy away from what happens when you overdo it on this product. Every opinion in our content is now based on science, research, and the abundance of anecdotal evidence of how this plant has saved lives and changed lives. As the founder of this company, I will not stop sharing these stories and making them available on our website because we will never censor information that can improve people’s lives.