Facebook parent Meta has blocked the publication of Legalise Cannabis Victoria (LCV) ads in a move that has left party officials puzzled and triggered an approach to the Human Rights Commissioner.
The social media giant claimed the material broke community safety guidelines, an assertion rejected by LCV.
The ads rejected by Meta include information on the first reading of the party’s Regulation of Personal Adult Use of Cannabis Bill 2023 across three states and a hemp policy announcement on LCV MP David Ettershank’s account.
The ban has included material LCV wanted to run on Instagram as well as Facebook.
A spokesperson for the party said the ban has become an “issue” which officials have been trying to resolve.
“Meta has removed multiple ‘ads’ including material about hemp as well as updates about the bill,” the spokesperson said. “They have taken down tiles that include text and an image featuring the words ‘medicinal cannabis’.
“The ban has occurred on Instagram and Facebook in a number of ways including in searches for the party.
“Meta has said we’re breaking community safety guidelines [but] we have reviewed such guidelines and haven’t been able to ascertain how we have done so.”
Staff have approached Meta and requested guidance, but little information has been forthcoming.
“After interactions with a Meta ad manager got us nowhere, we reached out to a Meta communications official on several occasions. Unfortunately, we have not heard back,” the spokesperson said. “We’ve been going around in circles.”
The party has now taken up the issue with the Human Rights Commissioner and unsuccessfully appealed to the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) to intervene.
The VEC told The Age it could not get involved and had no authority over the “the policies, procedures, or algorithms of social media platforms or companies”.
Quoted by The Age, LCV MP Rachel Payne said: “My colleagues and myself are being unfairly treated and discriminated against through Meta’s refusal to allow us to advertise, post stories about our party [and] even hiding our pages so that people cannot find us through searches.”