As many Americans know, the opioid crisis has become one of the leading causes of death among young people. In 2017, the United States Department of Health and Human Services announced a the opioid crisis has turned into a public health emergency.
Many young people are influenced by social media and social networking and use it as a way to get information and often times–even drugs. Instagram is now taking a stance and trying to raise awareness, spread information, and offer help to those who may need it. Now, when users search a hashtag related to drugs, opioids, or slang terms for them–they will be met with a warning.
Users who click on “Get Support” will be met with an information page–which includes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP, and treatment center locations. Additionally, there is information for other resources users may need.
Company officials have rolled out the feature in the U.S., but will have it going global this week. They decided to introduce the feature based on the knowledge that some users use hashtags like these to promote the sale and distribution of opioids and illegal drugs.
Karina Newton, Instagram’s head of public policy said:
“The opioid epidemic is an issue that affects millions of people, and we want to use our platform to offer resources to those who need it — in the places where they are seeking help. This is an important step for us in our ongoing commitment to make Instagram the kindest, safest social network.”
This is not the first time that Instagram has put a ban on hashtags they feel may influence their users in a negative way. In 2012, the company put a restriction on hashtags that promoted eating disorders, and later put a “content advisory” over posts, which provided links to information and support for those who suffered and live with eating disorders.