Social media is a blessing and a curse for any business, but more so for cannabis companies than perhaps any other. In theory, it gives farmers, craftspeople, and retailers a direct channel to communicate with (i.e. advertise to) their engaged clientele, allowing them to tell their brand’s story in an inexpensive and authentic manner.
Of course, we all know how authentic a scroll through any social media platform is, right?
The fact of the matter is that platforms like Instagram and Facebook allow all of us to present whatever image we want to the world, authentic or otherwise… Well, almost any image…
While social media actively festers and then highlights some of the worst aspects of society and humanity on a 24/7/365 schedule, there is a line that these platforms draw that shall not be crossed, and that line currently lies right at the feet of the cannabis culture.
That leaves cannabis brands with the challenge of walking that narrow line, 24/7/365. It requires time and labor, which always equals money, to maintain a consistent presence on these platforms, but to do so without shining too brightly, or upsetting even one hater, lest you wake up to a banned or deleted account.
The constant threat of losing those accounts and starting from scratch leads to the creation of backup accounts which then, too, must be maintained on a regular basis. Each backup account features a slight variation of the spelling or format of the original account name… an underscore here, a few numbers tacked on over there…
From an operator’s standpoint, it is exhausting, frustrating, and more often than not, thankless.
From the perspective of the audience, it is absolutely confusing as fuck and we know this because we are witnessing in real-time how the glaring discrimination against cannabis-related social media accounts is creating a shady space for scammers to swoop in and prey on easy targets.
Aside from seeing fake Beard Bros accounts crop up from time to time, just in the past month I have seen prominent cannabis brands like Aficionado Seeds (@aficionado_frenchconnection), The Humboldt Seed Co. (@thehumboldtseedcompany) , and Swami Select (@swamiselect) issue stark warnings to their tens of thousands of followers, telling them that scammers are using their brand names, logos, and photos to rope as many dopes as possible into their CashApp scams.
These brands are forced to publish these reactionary announcements because the social media platforms themselves are unwilling to do anything to combat what appear to be clear cases of internet fraud.
The Scams Go Down in the DMs
Since social media allows anyone to make an account using virtually any name they choose, and since cannabis brands are known for having backup accounts, scammers see an opportunity to capitalize on that lack of accountability.
When it comes to Swami Select, for example, they only have one Facebook page which you can find at www.facebook.com/swamiselect
That link leads you to a Facebook Page, not a personal Facebook account, a business page.
Swami himself does not keep a personal Facebook account so that link above is the only place to find authentic Swami Select content on Facebook, period.
Still, Facebook has allowed a man “named” Bobah Patem to create an account at www.facebook.com/bobah.patem (at least I assume it’s there, the asshole blocked me real quick) which comes up as an almost exact replica of the Swami Select page. He has the same profile photo, cover photo, even the same bio info right down to the state-issued license number.
He sends friend requests to targeted groups of people with common interests (WEED), and like a lazy fisherman he just waits for a nibble before setting the hook and reeling in another sucker.
When he feels that bite on the line, he drags them into the DMs where he can really get his hands on them.
RELATED READING: Cannabis Companies Are About to Pay for Facebook’s Fuckups
There the fooled find detailed menus for cannabis flowers and/or seeds featuring strain names they recognize and prices they can’t believe.
Most often sitting in states that have not kept up with cannabis reform, these gullible stoners are lured further along, usually into something like CashApp, where they are encouraged to pay for their too-good-to-be-true order upfront.
Don’t worry, reaffirms the scammer, leaning hard on the authenticity of the brand they are impersonating.
Then, just like that, the deal is done. And when I say done, I mean done. Your money is gone and there ain’t no seeds or buds coming back your way.
What are you going to do? Call the cops? Tell them you were trying to buy weed illegally and have it shipped across state lines, also illegally?
Naturally, the victim’s next step is usually the one that should’ve been their first step. They do their own due diligence to find the actual account associated with the brand and they whine at them.
Everyone loses except ol’ Bobah or whatever the fraud’s name is.
The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Ban
Ok, now from the perspective of the cannabis brand operator.
The industry is bullshit. You are taxed to the brink of bankruptcy. Staying compliant with state regulations requires a full-time employee, paid with money you don’t have, to ensure that everything you have fought for isn’t taken away over an accounting error in an irreparably flawed seed-to-sale software program. Prices are plummeting thanks to corporate boofherders who wouldn’t smoke a joint if their lives depended on it.
Fuckin’ fun, right?!
As you kick and thrash to keep your head above water, you get inundated with DMs from folks saying you promised to send them seeds, or weed, or whatever, which you know you didn’t and wouldn’t do.
Reading their complaints, you realize that your social media accounts have been duped and that someone is using your reputation to rip off others.
What do you do?
Right now you have exactly 3 options, and they all suck:
- Hit up the offending account. Try to reason with them. Explain the duress it causes you and your brand and, especially, the victims of their fraud. Then sit back and watch them laugh and laugh and laugh at you before blocking you.
- Hit up your local law enforcement agency. This is what Facebook encourages you to do… seriously. Again, just be ready to get laughed off the phone
- Hit up the social media platform itself through customer service, or their built-in “Reporting” feature, alerting them of the fake account. They won’t laugh at you. I promise. In fact, they won’t even reply to you.
When you try to “Report” an account on Facebook or Instagram, it gives you a predetermined list of reasons why you want to report the account. One of those reasons is that they are “pretending to be” someone else. Ok, pretty straightforward, right?
Those claims are almost immediately denied by the platforms’ algorithms, with no opportunity to make your case with screenshots or other potential proof.
When you get the generic reply from FB or IG telling you that they reviewed your report and found nothing wrong with the faker, they give you one option – block the fake account.
What the actual fuck is that going to accomplish?
How is that going to stop them from using your account to scam more people in your name?
It won’t. It can’t. It’s lazy and it’s broken and it should leave these platforms wide open to litigation as they are aiding and abetting every fraudulent case of wiring of funds.
I have heard it suggested that popular brands should get their social media accounts “verified” with the blue checkmark you sometimes see on a prominent profile page.
Again, that isn’t going to accomplish shit when it comes to this growing problem. Anyone who is foolish and desperate enough to get scammed by these clown accounts is not going to be searching for a blue checkmark.
Also, if you read the guidelines for applying for that verified checkmark on Instagram, they clearly state that they are going straight from your application to your profile page and if your page violated any of their guidelines, they can disable YOU. Technically, every page with even a hint of a pot leaf is in violation so, yeah, that’s not really an option anyway.
How to Have the Last Laugh on Cannabis Scams
Ask yourself, “Is what I am about to do against the law?”
If the answer is yes or even maybe, proceed to Step 2.
Ask yourself, “Do I really want to break the law with a stranger and a digital paper trail?”
If the answer is yes or even maybe, you’re on your own. I mean, seriously folks, I am a very empathetic fella but I am also a firm believer in the old adage that you get what you pay for and if you pay for a scam you’re gonna get it.
If you really think you are talking to the Beard Bros, or Swami, or any other decision-maker for an established cannabis brand, you have to stop for at least a second and wonder why they’d risk it ALL – company, license, and freedom – to slang you a sack on Facebook. Get fuckin’ real.
Every fake profile page will be littered with clues about its inauthenticity – whether it is on Facebook or Instagram, or any other platform.
I’d give you a list of things to look out for but it’s really way more simple than that: DON’T TRY TO BUY WEED OR SEEDS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that known anti-cannabis platforms like FB or IG are probably not the best place to conduct drug deals.
That’s what Sizlit is for! Just kidding, but have you heard of Sizlit yet?
Sizlit is a cannabis-friendly social media platform made by weed-lovers, for weed-lovers.
Sizlit isn’t shadowbanning the Beard Bros for talking about weed, or anyone else for that matter. Cannabis culture preservation is at the root of this startup smartphone app but, as we all know, cannabis culture is fueled by our cannabis community.
Sizlit isn’t quite as polished as Instagram or Facebook… yet. That’s where you come in! There is no algorithm pushing unwanted content all over the platform. Instead, it’s up to all of us to create and share that content that we want to see on there, and to encourage our friends to do the same.
If you have a cannabis brand, Sizlit is the only social media platform where you know that every minute you invest in it will be safe and secure and free from the discrimination that has worn us all down over the years. The best part is that these fakers, frauds, and scammers won’t waste their time on Sizlit because they know they don’t have the shadows to operate from that mainstream social media willingly provides.
Controlling the media is a major ingredient for communicating to the masses. Corporate social media is no place for craft cannabis brands. Instead, stake your claim in a cannabis social media platform sprouted right from the grassroots of the cannabis culture and create your free Sizlit account today.