A weekly video news bulletin has been banned from Facebook because it argued that drugs should be legalised.
- April 1, 2020
- January 27, 2020
- December 19, 2019
Former BBC and CNN journalist Leon Hawthorne launched his weekly UK-based news bulletin on Facebook two months ago.
He ran into trouble when he tried to “boost” his post by buying advertising on Facebook.
First he was told that the advert was not approved “because the video used in the ad promotes the use or sale of illegal drugs or legalization of drugs.
“We have zero tolerance towards such ads. This policy applies even if your ad is targeted to the an 18+ age group.
“This decision is final and we may not respond to additional inquiries about this ad.”
He then found that the advert did appear to Facebook users, resulting in more than 30,000 views for his video.
Then, his show’s Facebook page disappeared from the platform altogether. It has now been down for several days with no explanation given from the media giant which made £22bn from advertising last year.
Hawthorne told Press Gazette: “It is clear now they don’t have a strategy to deal with editorial content. They are a technology company and when they are confronted with editorial issues they don’t know what to do.
“My show was created for Facebook because it is a great way to target a new audience. The strategy was to build an audience on Facebook and to then look at monetising it by persuading them to go to my website or subscribe.”
In his banned show Hawthorne talked about the “war on drugs” first started by US president Richard Nixon and said: “By any standard, this war has been a monumental failure.
“Violent crime, corruption, overdosing… virtually all of the problems associated with drugs are caused by the very fact that drugs are illegal.”
He noted that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been filmed meeting Canadian president Justin Trudeau and questioned whether the politician would be similarly banned from Facebook if he posted a video promoting his policy to legalise cannabis.
Hawthorne told Press Gazette: “What on Earth are they doing reading a script and saying ‘this is a problem, we don’t believe in its editorial line so we are not going to run that’.
“If you are going to do that make sure you have senior editorial resources and lawyers to do that.
“To see an argument for legalising drugs as the same as promoting the sale or use of drugs is bizarre and idiotic.”
In his latest video, Hawthorne presented an open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
He said: “Look, I understand. I have been a content CEO and I used to advise media companies like the London Evening Standard and Hearst Magazines on their content strategies.
“But my personal experience has demonstrated Facebook is out of its depth. Your people don’t know what they’re doing and are woefully inadequate at dealing with content issues or communicating with customers and the press.
“Mark: you may not be a content guy, but you need to hire one fast because Facebook’s fortune can go down as rapidly as they have gone up.”
Google and Facebook are two of the two biggest media companies operating in the UK are predicted to take more than 70 per of all online advertising in this country by 2020.
A spokeperson for Facebook said they are investigating the matter.