Sunday, November 25, 2018

Instagram's Dark Side: Drug Deals

Controversy  Instagram has been the social media website place to be, especially for teens and college students. Pictures are posted by users from around the world so their friends can keep up with what they are up to on a daily basis. Most of the pictures shared are fun, happy moments that people want to show their friends.  The website can keep people in touch while allowing its users to get engaged with their creative side.  However, this social media giant is not all fun and games.  Instagram is going down a dark path, and so far, the company has done almost nothing to stop it.  What is the dark path that Instagram is going down? Let’s find out.
Instagram's Founders 

Instagram is the social media giant that has over 800 million users online. However, they have been in the news recently due to the founders of the company leaving their posts as CEO and CFO.  After the company was bought by Facebook in 2012, Instagram was still ran by the founders of the company, but with the new added influence of Facebook.  At first, nobody had known why the companies founders left.  However, it has recently come to many people's attention that people using the app are using it for the wrong reasons.  People today, specifically drug dealers, are using Instagram as a way to sell drugs. They do this by posting a photo with drugs in it to their feed and using hashtags of drug names to reach many users. Instagram uses phrases with hashtags so people can search the hashtags and find posts that they are interested in. The app is preloaded with algorithms that will then show a user posts that are similar to the ones that they have been searching for. So, If a user on Inst
agram was posting, searching, or liking others posts that Include hashtags with words like “addiction” or any sort of drug names, their explore page would be automatically sending them other posts that have drug paraphernalia.  This is how drug users are connected to people selling drugs through the app without even trying.  Since Instagram has built in software that shows you similar posts and tries to predict your interests, you can be shown posts of people selling you drugs, which gets you sucked in without the people of Instagram even knowing.
The DEA has ca
lled these social media apps “street level dealers” because most people selling on the streets are now selling over the social media platforms.  The DEA believes that these social media platforms are able to expand their outreach towards new drug users in a faster way than at the street level, which causes greater issues in the war on drugs. With the opioid epidemic going on in the United States, kids being able to get drugs through social media websites seems like a scary thing that is going to increase the epidemic that we already have. And although Instagram has taken some action to limit what words can be used as hashtags by eliminating some of the drug names, are they really doing enough to keep their users safe? Photo of what users may see
Now, there’s a lot at risk. The upper level management could potentially lose money if the controversy grows and people stop using the app, and the users of the app can be affected if there is going to be an update to their social networking rules. Individualism This story can be viewed from a few different ethical perspectives.  An Individualistic perspective would show that Instagram should maximize their profits by any means necessary, as long as they stay within the rules of the law.  Although the sale of drugs is illegal, Instagram is not profiting in an illegal way, so they would possibly turn a blind eye because to them, the drug dealers on the app are just another person using the app to see adds, which will bring Instagram profits. Utilitarianism A Utilitarian would also view this case by allowing the deals to happen. Utilitarians want to maximize happiness. If Instagram keeps allowing drug sales to happen then the dealers are happy because they have a place to sell drugs, Instagram is happy because they are making money from people using the app, and the people buying drugs are happy because they are getting drugs easily. For a utilitarian, everyone involved wins. Image result for drug post on instagram Another example of what users may see Kantianism People that follow the ethics of Kantianism are going to view this vastly different from the first two. Kant's believe that people need to act rationally and consistently, and nobody is exempt from the rules of society.  In this scenario, this belief system would show that Instagram, even though they are a big company, should not be exempt from the rules of law by allowing drug deals to happen on their platform. Instagram would follow the first rule by doing what is right, and getting rid of drug sales on their website by banning pictures of drugs and drug posts. And if they were motivated to do this with the purpose of creating a safer environment they would follow the second rule of Kantianism as well. Virtue Theory Instagram could also take the ethical ideology of Virtue Theory. This is the most strict of the theories with four main rules to follow, courage, honesty, temperance, and justice.  Instagram could be very strict by following virtue theory by taking the necessary steps, even if they are drastic, by taking a stand for this cause.  They can also be honest with the public about the issue and say how they will not tolerate it. Will the company be willing to sacrifice some things for these drastic changes?
When evaluating Instagram thus far, it is clear that they have taken some action, but not nearly enough. When developing an action plan, Instagram could reinvent themselves by changing their policies to take down pictures of drugs, or captions that involve drug names.  They could reinvent themselves as a safer place for people to share.  Instead of just capturing the worlds moments like they say, let’s capture those moments, but keep a safe, fun, and creative environment for everyone. These facts and analyses are based on an original research paper by MFerrera

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