Of all the things that you might imagine would urge Russia to threaten blocking Facebook, a legal synthetic marijuana substitute wouldn’t likely be on top of the list. I could see promoting public unrest against the government or major criticism of high ranking officials and policies causing feathers to be ruffled. However, ads for a tobacco-based weed substitute would seem innocuous.
Well, apparently that is just what would urge Russia to consider a blanket ban on Facebook. It would appear that the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications has threatened a ban based on a series of ads. So called ‘legal highs’ are being touted on Facebook as being available from the U.K. These tobacco blends contain substances such as Salvia divinorum, Hawaiian wood rose, and Blue lotus. Such substances can simulate the highs of other more dangerous and banned drugs but are themselves not considered illegal, well, that is to say they are not illegal in the UK. Russia is of course a different story as these substances and blends of tobacco are banned and this is why the government is threatening to block Facebook. Officials are saying that if Facebook does not remove these ads then Russia will take the action of blocking the site across the country.
The country is concerned because these ads are freely available to view on Facebook in Russia and the companies involved will ship to buyers in Russia and the Ukraine. This means that such ads are may be deemed illegal and if that is the case they reserve the right to block the general public from seeing them.