A new report indicates that Instagram makes it easier for minors to access drugs.
Meta-owned platform Instagram claims it prohibits the selling and buying of drugs. A new report indicates that minors had access to a variety of pharmaceuticals through the platform. According to a Tech Transparency Project report (TTP), the platform allows Teens as young as 13 years old to search for potentially fatal drugs online in just two clicks
TTP created multiple Instagram accounts to accommodate minors aged 13-17 years old. These accounts were used to test teens’ access to controlled substances. The report stated that Instagram allowed the hypothetical Teens to search for age-restricted or illegal drugs.
It also helped them connect with drug dealers, selling everything from opioids and party drugs.
It took only two clicks for a hypothetical teen user to log into Instagram and reach an account selling drugs such as Xanax. It took five clicks for the teen user to log out of Instagram, which was more than twice the time it took.
The report also stated that Instagram bans certain drug-related hashtags such as #mdma (for party drug ecstasy), but that if a teen searched for #mdma in Instagram’s search bar, Instagram automatically filled in alternative hashtags for the drug.
How it worked.
A teen account on Instagram followed a drug dealer, and the platform began recommending other accounts selling drugs. This highlights how the company’s algorithms work to keep young people interested regardless of the danger.
Frances Haugen, a whistleblower who leaked company research that suggested Instagram’s negative effects on Teens, has caused a backlash against the photo-sharing site. The platform then launched a “Take a break” feature and other safety features to help teenagers