Meta decides to Just Say No to Oversight Board requests and allow paid posts for ketamine

Because says nothing like quality medical care like an ad for the 'magical entry into another dimension'

Meta has decided that some of its Oversight Board's objections posts related to intoxicating drugs aren't worth its time, so bring on the paid advertisements for ketamine.

Therapeutic ketamine only, of course. Though still not FDA-approved.

Meta's Oversight Board issued four recommendations in August regarding a sponsored post on Instagram from 2022 that advertised the dissociative anesthetic ketamine as a treatment for anxiety and depression. Last week, Meta decided that it wasn't going to conform to all of the Board's recommendations, outright ignoring one and brushing a second aside with a promise to consider it later on. 

The Board, which Meta sponsors to act as an independent conscience in tricky cases, describes itself as having the power to issue decisions that "will be binding, meaning Meta will have to implement them, unless doing so could violate the law." Zuckerberg's organization seems to feel this is harshing its buzz, however.

"We allow broader discussion of pharmaceutical drugs, which we define as drugs that require a prescription or medical professionals to administer," Meta said in response to the OB's decision. "These types of discussions are often important to protect users' voice, ability to discuss their health challenges, and ability to share information that may help others." 

The Board had asked Meta to clarify language in its Restricted Goods and Services Community Standard which allows the promotion of pharmaceutical drugs, even when such drugs may cause a "high," provided they're used in a supervised setting. In particular, the OB wanted clarification on what qualifies as a supervised setting, but Meta responded by saying that would place too great a burden on posters' freedoms to discuss their medical conditions. 

We were unable to reach the Board for comment, but it did tell Bloomberg it was "unfortunate that they [Meta] aren't going to clarify the policy as recommended." 

Feel free to talk about your trip, as long as it's doctor ordered

"This case indicates that Meta's strong restrictions on branded content promoting drugs and attempts to buy, sell, or trade drugs on its platforms may be inconsistently enforced," the Board said. 

Case in point, the original sponsored post that discusses ketamine therapy. 

"While the user described ketamine as medicine, the post contains no mention of a professional diagnosis; no clear evidence that treatment occurred at a licensed clinic; and nothing showing that the treatment took place under medical supervision," the OB noted. 

It did, however, describe ketamine as a "magical entry into another dimension," with accompanying psychedelic drawings. 

Meta's branded content policy, the Board noted, doesn't allow paid, branded promotional content involving "drugs and drug-related products, including illegal or recreational drugs," and as such the post in question had to come down.

The decision raises further questions about drug-related content on social media, which by Meta's call seems to be alright provided the drug in question can be linked to doctor-prescribed applications. That means cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms, ketamine and other recreational drugs with purported therapeutic value are all well and good by Meta's accounting.

As US laws restricting the use of psychedelics, in most cases for therapy but in some places recreationally, and cannabis are gradually loosened, there's a ton of money to be made, and Meta undoubtedly wants to be sure its policies are set up to allow some of that cash to flow its way.

Besides, sales of illegal drugs have proliferated on social media in recent years, with government agencies and researchers alike pointing to platforms owned by Meta as the new virtual street corners for finding illicit substances online. It's hard to make money from sneaky drug dealers, but legit businesses offering a premium high? Yeah, man, that's the good stuff. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like