It's an internet law that any new social media technology will instantly be used to buy and sell drugs. I've come across allegations of drug trades on Facebook, Topix, Craigslist, and, of course various Dark Net forums like Silk Road. Now Instagram is in the spotlight for apparently being a hotbed of artfully-filtered drug trafficking.
A highly entertaining Vice article recently spotlighted an Atlanta-based drug kingpin who used Instagram to move huge cases of the codeine-laced beverage known as lean by communicating with his followers on Instagram in emojis and hashtags. Now the BBC reports that Instagram is filtering out certain hashtags and keywords that had apparently become used to sell weed, pills and MDMA. Dealers post pictures of their wares on their accounts, and followers offer up their usernames on Kik and WhatsApp messenger services in the comments in order to complete deals.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, has apparently had enough and is cleaning up the mean streets of Instagram. From the BBC:
The BBC understands Facebook's staff aim to review posts flagged to either of its social networks within 48 hours. They also have the option of blocking terms classed as "bad hashtags" - ones that promote banned activities - if they are mentioned in the press or in user reports.
The race is on to be the first blogger to find people selling drugs on Snapchat.