According to a report in The Washington Post this week, Facebook and the Facebook-owned photo platform Instagram are frequently abused by criminals as an “open marketplace” to sell drugs.
The paper’s investigation allegedly discovered thousands of posts advertising hard drugs on these platforms. And while it’s not surprising that drug dealers would try to sell their products in this manner, it is truly shocking what happens when a user follows these accounts. If you were to follow an account selling drugs, there’s a high likelihood you would see the accounts of other dealers, too. Both Facebook and Instagram recommend people you may want to follow based on unclear criteria — but apparently an interest in purchasing drugs is one of those factors.
Facebook admitted it has more to do to solve the problem, and promised it’s working on it.
“We’re not yet sophisticated enough to tease apart every post to see if it’s trying to sell someone illegal drugs or they are taking Xanax because they are stressed out,” Facebook vice president for global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson told The Washington Post. “Obviously, there is some stuff that gets through that is totally against our policy, and we’re getting better at it.”
It’s a good thing Facebook recognizes this problem, but if it’s so easy to find thousands of posts selling drugs, then the social media giant needs to take far bigger steps to correct it.