This is kind of an interesting thing for Instagram to be doing. They are trying to find a way to reach out to be people who are either addicted to opioids or know someone who is in their own way - through hashtags.
A new feature in the app will surface alerts with links to information about recovery and treatment services when users search for hashtags related to opioids as well as other illegal drugs. The feature is available now in the United States and will roll out to users in the rest of the world "soon," the company says.
Previously, Instagram has blocked many hashtags related to opioids and other drugs. Though the app's rules prohibit people from buying or selling prescription and illegal drugs on its service, that hasn't stopped people from trying, and the company has blocked or limited the visibility or certain hashtags when it detects misuse. But not every opioid-related hashtag is automatically blocked.
According to Instagram, that's because many people use the hashtags to find and offer support to those affected by the ongoing opioid crisis. The new in-app notifications are meant to further that type of support, the company says.
"People from all over the world use hashtags, comments, and more to offer support and find communities who understand the issues they may be struggling with," Instagram's head of public policy, Karina Newton, said in a statement. "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."
It will be interesting to see if this makes a difference!