Instagram issues hashtag ban to stop dealers selling illegal drugs through app

A BBC investigation into the advertising of illegal drugs through pictures posted on Instagram has lead to the social network banning related hashtags.

The Beeb found that some users where posting pictures of the illegal substances, along with prices and details of where a buyer can contact them next. They quoted instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Kik.

Pictures found by the BBC included what looked to be bags of marijuana along with the message, "Just getting a few packs ready for tomorrow morning... Place your order today, it gets shipped out at 8AM tomorrow."

Another showed a variety of pills with the message, "$2 a pop for xans [Xanax], $10 a pop for roxys [Roxicodone]." Both drugs require a prescription as the first is a psychoactive anxiety treatment, the other an opiate used to treat pain.

The BBC also claims that MDMA and other amphetamine-related substances were advertised via photos and videos.

Certain hashtags were used in such instances and these are among those being removed by Instagram. By doing so it is unlikely to stop people posting the adverts, but makes every effort to stop others from finding them.

Speaking to the Beeb, a spokesman said, "Instagram has a clear set of rules about what is and isn't allowed on the site.

"We encourage people who come across illegal or inappropriate content to report it to us using the built-in reporting tools next to every photo, video or comment, so we can take action.

"People can't buy things on Instagram, we are simply a place where people share photos and videos."