Instagram makes trivial 13-year-olds find and buy drugs like MDMA and Xanax, according to a recent report. The organization recently conducted an investigation in which it created a series of fake accounts to test the protection measures that Instagram has to protect young people from potentially deadly drugs.
Although hashtags like #mdma are banned on the platform, TTP has found it easy to circumvent these restrictions with a minor-related account. Using MDMA as an example, the organization found it could use terms like “mdmamolly” to find people selling the substance. In fact, the app’s search algorithm made it easier to find these hashtags, with its autocomplete feature pointing researchers in the right direction.
To make matters worse, when someone tracks at least one account belonging to an alleged drug dealer, Instagram’s recommendation algorithm will suggest the user follow similar profiles. Despite Instagram banning “buying or selling non-medical or pharmaceutical drugs,” TTP found that many drug dealers are openly working on the platform.
Separately, TTP says Instagram has not taken decisive action against the content it found on the platform. The organization claims to have submitted 50 posts to the company for review. Of those, Instagram said 36 (or 72 percent) did not violate the Community Guidelines, despite what the TTP says are “clear signs” of drug dealing activities. At the time of publication, the company had banned only one account marked TTP. However, when the organization went to check that profile, it was still on Instagram along with all the content that violates the rules.
“We ban the sale of drugs on Instagram. In the last quarter alone, we removed 1.8 million pieces of drug-related content, and because of our improved detection technology, the prevalence of such content is about 0.05 percent of the content viewed, or about 5 views per 10,000, ”Stephanie Otway, Meta spokeswoman he told Engadget. “We will continue to improve in this area in our ongoing efforts to protect Instagram, especially for our youngest members of the community.”
The report comes just a day before it should testify to the Senate about the impact of Instagram on young users. The platform has faced increasing control in recent weeks. According to Haugen, he knew from his own internal research that Instagram is harmful to many teenagers, and yet the company ignored those warnings. The TTP findings are likely to provide information on some of the questions the Consumer Subcommittee is asking Mosseria on Wednesday.
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