Instagram Blocks Searches for Narcotics-Related Hashtags

Instagram Blocks Searches for Narcotics-Related HashtagsBelieve it or not, Instagram is currently being used to advertise and sell prohibited drugs online. Drug dealers have turned more creative these days as they tend to use popular social networks and Websites to get in touch with prospective clients. Unfortunately, they may now have to be more creative in using Instagram to advertise their goods.

According to reports, the photo-sharing online site has started a crackdown on those narcotics-related hashtags. The Facebook-owned Website is now blocking searches for specific hashtags following its discovery that a number of drug dealers have been using those terms to post ads and reach their clients within the network.

In a statement, Instagram through a spokesperson reiterated that it has effective policies over what is allowed and isn’t allowed within the site. Thus, it appeals to its users to immediately report inappropriate or illegal content through using any of the built-in reporting tools that are strategically placed next to each photo, comment, or video. The Website assures that it would take action upon receiving those reports.

Creative links

Instagram did not specifically identify the terms that are used in those hashtags that are now banned. But many users of the social network have noticed that hashtags like #dirtysprite and #lean are now blocked. Based on its rules, the Website would only block hashtags that are clearly being used as links to content that breaches Instagram’s terms of service.

In October, ‘Vice’ magazine exposed transactions carried out in the site for selling a purple drink that comprises of codeine, promethazine, and Sprite. The boozy drink is known in several nicknames like ‘Dirty Sprite,’ ‘Sizzurp,’ and ‘Lean.’ What was bothering in the magazine’s report was the fact that dealers have been using Instagram and other social networks to advertise such illegal merchandize.

Carrying out transactions

It is interesting how transactions are done when Instagram does not support services to buy and sell goods online. Apparently, dealers share specific photos and videos with the creative hashtags. Then, they would communicate with interested and potential buyers through other messaging services like WhatsApp or Kik. Payments are coursed through PayPal and goods are delivered through traditional shipping services.

Hashtags are being used to connect buyers and sellers of those narcotics. Dealers also tend to occasionally switch accounts to prevent detection. As Instagram starts to block those terms, it is expected that new set of creative hashtags would emerge to perpetuate this online practice.

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About the author

Drew is a regular contributor covering trending topics.