Instagram cracks down on drug hashtags, deleting many

Drug Hashtag - Instagram Cracksdown on hashtags - Instagram symbol

Facebook, the parent company, decided to remove #opioids, #fentanyl, #oxycontin and others.

Instagram has decided to crackdown on drug hashtags, taking down some based on medication names. Among those Facebook – the parent company – has decided to delete include #oxycontin, #fentanyl and #opiods.

Many others have also been taken down based on upgrades to Instagram’s community guidelines.

Searches for #xanax and #fentanyl shortly after the drug hashtags crackdown produced no recent posts but shared a message stating that those posts “are currently hidden because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.” Equally, searching for #oxycontin brought about no results at all.

Instagram explained its decision to enforce its community guidelines with greater fervor. A company spokesperson stated that the Instagram “community guidelines make it clear that buying or selling prescription drugs isn’t allowed on Instagram and we have zero tolerance when it comes to content that puts the safety of our community at risk.”

Instagram also pointed out that it is continually monitoring drug hashtags and other hashtag behaviors.

This crackdown occurred on the heels of a recent criticism by Scott Gottlieb, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner. He stated that social media platform efforts were inadequate to stop their websites and apps from being used as an opioids sales venue.

Gottlieb also stated that he would be extending invitations to major internet company CEOs to attend a summit. There, they could discuss the role of the technology industry in the opioid crisis. According to Gottleib, the agency identified offers for purchasing opioids on several social media sites. These weren’t just Instagram, but also included Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, according to an Engadget report.

“I know that internet firms are reluctant to cross a threshold, where they could find themselves taking on a broader policing role,” said Gottleib. “But these are insidious threats being propagated on these web platforms.”

Facebook has faced considerable scrutiny regarding the company’s transparency. This includes the way it manages drug hashtags, privacy and many other components of its Facebook and Instagram platforms. CEO Mark Zuckerberg was required to face two Congressional committees this week as a component of intentions to develop future regulations.

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