“I received no warning about the deactivation,” Byers told Daily Hive over the phone.
“I filed different appeals and just got a generic response: ‘your account has been banned for harassment, hate speech, promoting self-destructive behaviour.'”
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In April 2015, Byers turned down her political pursuits in DC for a chance in the cannabis industry in Washington State.
“I started working in a grow doing everything from cloning to sales and marketing for about six to eight months and then I transitioned to a digital marketing agency.”
Byers is known for her cannabis-oriented lifestyle photography, and after garnering attention on her personal Instagram account, created @imcannabess to showcase various brands and influencers she works with.
“It’s not just an app. It’s a way for me to educate people about products, legislation, and community issues.”
“I understand that cannabis is federally illegal but it’s legal in most states, and it will be legal in Canada in two months,” said Byers, who is frustrated by Instagram’s inconsistency with its terms of service rules.
“I see posts in my timeline sponsored by alcohol companies and bars, or group fights in my suggested fed and people promoting their premium porno Snapchat in their bio.”
Instagram is an important business tool for Byers and her clients, as it’s a way to create content and share a brand’s personal story.
“It has been an amazing way to connect with the community,” said Byers.
Byers would be happy to play by Instagram’s rules, but unfortunately they haven’t outlined any for the cannabis industry, and continue to take down accounts without warning or explanation.
“We would like to know what we can and can’t do. Are we not able to mention our retail partners? Push prices? Fine, we won’t. Just let us know.”
“I’m starting to petition Instagram to update their terms of service to be more transparent to the cannabis community, letting us know what we can and can’t do, and to stop targeting legal cannabis pages.”
In response to the recent upset, Byers is starting #cannabisblackoutday on the anniversary of Instagram’s launch.
“I asking anyone who supports the cannabis community, not just people who are in the industry or have a cannabis Instagram account, to refrain from using the app on October 6,” said Byers.
“I want Instagram to see that drop in engagement and recognize that our community is powerful and to respect that.”
After two weeks of appeals and an outpouring of community support, Byers’ Instagram account was reactivated, accompanied by a generic note that said, “it looks like your account was disabled by mistake.”
There has still been no word from Instagram as to why Byers’ and other cannabis Instagram accounts are deleted daily, nor what rules influencers can follow to prevent future deactivation.
Earlier this year, YouTube started deleting cannabis accounts, and Facebook prohibits promoting cannabis content.