The photo sharing social network Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has blocked searches for certain terms that are associated with the suspected selling of illegal drugs.
As a result of an investigation, journalists found that there were many pictures and videos that had been posted of narcotics, which also included text offering them for sale.
Although Instagram has policies regarding posts that have been reported as inappropriate, the company think it invasive and impractical to continously search out this type of material.
A spokesperson for the firm said: “Instagram has a clear set of rules about what is and isn’t allowed on the site.
“We encourage people who come across illegal or inappropriate content to report it to us using the built-in reporting tools next to every photo, video or comment, so we can take action.
“People can’t buy things on Instagram, we are simply a place where people share photos and videos.”
Keeping It Private
It a lot of cases buyers and sellers are able to arrange and finalise deals without ever revealing their true identities. Accounts on both Instagram and then instant messaging apps like WhatsApp and Kik, allow these deals to take place without the use of real names.
One post, which featured a picture of bags of marijuana, read: “Just getting a few packs ready for tomorrow morning… Place your order today, it gets shipped out at 8AM tomorrow.”
Other substances advertised on Instagram include Xanax, a psychoactive anxiety treatment and Roxincodone, an opiate used for pain relief. Both of these require prescriptions in the U.S. and in the U.K.
10 Seconds To Find Posts Selling Drugs
Instagram is not on its own when it comes to posts advertising drugs. Google’s YouTube service has also been reported to have the same problem. And like Facebook, Google relies on users reporting the action before it will take action.
A drugs abuse researcher, who has worked alongside the UN and World Health Organisation, said he was concerned by how easy it is to find class-A drugs on the internet.
“I’m not particularly sophisticated on the internet, and it took me 10 seconds to see posts selling class-A drugs on Instagram,” said Prof Neil McKeganey, founder of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research, in Glasgow.
“Here is a public space being used to trade some of the most dangerous substances that we know are being abused. I absolutely feel there is a responsibility to take proactive action.
“It seems to me far too serious for those who own the companies that provide the public space through which this is occurring to simply say it’s up to contributors to bring this to their attention.”
It has been suggested that social media sites need to act much quicker in resolving these issues if the problem is to be combatted.
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[Image via YouTube]