Instagram to Users: Stop Selling Drugs Through Our Site

By Shawn Dwyer 11/25/13

The popular photo and video sharing service has unwittingly played middleman to illegal drug deals

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Social media still as a long way to go
Photo via Shutterstock

The popular social media platform Instagram declared that enough is enough and has begun to crack down on individuals using the site to sell illicit drugs.

An investigation by the BBC’s new social media arm #BBCtrending unearthed thousands of photos of dealers displaying a wide assortment of drugs including marijuana, MDMA, and even concentrated cough syrup, which mimics the effects of heroin.

Using the right hashtags, potential customers used to be able to find a variety of drugs by searching the site and contacting the dealer directly. Unwittingly, Instagram became a middleman in the transactions, but in response to the BBC’s investigation they began blocking a number of search terms.

A statement released by Instagram was quick to point out that "people can't buy things on Instagram, we are simply a place where people share photos and videos." Aside from eliminating keywords, Instagram called upon other users for help. "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.”

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.