Instagram: Facebook’s newest Porn Problem

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Instagram: Facebook’s newest Porn Problem

By Jason A. Howie   /     Jun 14, 2012  /     Articles  /     

Instagram Porn ProblemFacebook has a storied past trying to combat spammers and porn sites from utilizing the success of their platform so much so that it isn’t uncommon to read a headline on Gizmodo or Mashable titled something like “Facebook has a new porn problem” and recently with their acquisition of Instagram, Facebook faces yet another porn problem.

Instagram: Facebook’s newest Porn Problem

Instagram is a photo sharing service in which people can take a picture, apply a filter, and share it with both their followers and with other instagramers who happen to be searching for hashtags that the users have placed on pictures.

These hashtags are how porn sites and spammers are trying to gain a presence on Instagram and Facebook. While Instagram does give users a way to flag photos as being inappropriate, spammers are quick to repost images under newly created accounts. And as Instagram’s popularity continues to rise so do developer tools for Instagram which some allow both well-meaning and nefarious users to upload to Instagram from a number of applications. This wide support from developers is bound to cause headaches for Facebook as parents yell on why they have to explain these inappropriate photos to their children.

Hashtags expose more than just photos to users:

For proof of the problem one has to go no further than their Instagram app and search for #porn which returns eleven hashtag suggestions or #boobs where over 30 results are suggested. Then click on one of the hashtag suggestions and take a gander at what is available (Warning about clicking: NSFW).  Facebook and Instagram must be aware of the problem as some hashtags are blocked from search but not all. Of course as they block these hashtags we can then ask, what would prevent the spammers from using widely accepted hashtags other than the user base itself and speedy reaction by Instagram moderators and automated moderation tools.

Solutions for Instagram and Facebook’s Porn Problem:

  • Develop controls to underage users from searching for inappropriate hashtags
  • Controls to prevent underage users from using inappropriate hashtags
    • This is extremely important as once something is posted on Instagram a thousand people could have seen it.
  • Encourage the user base to keep Instagram clean, and educating minors on the lasting nature of information on the internet.
  • Develop automated tools remove accounts and new users that are flagged multiple times

As I see it the largest problem for Facebook is that they do not have controls for anyone under the age of 18 to not post or search for hashtags that will lead to nudity and porn. Therefore preventing anyone under the age of 18 to tag their photos inappropriately and to prevent them from searching for those inappropriate tags is the most important first step.

About Jason A. Howie

An unabashed marketing geek with a love for both the analytic trends and the creative possibilities in social media marketing.

4 Comments

  1. Shanteria Johnson Says: December 16, 2012 10:02 am

    Thats messed up. Is there anyway Instagram can ban any sexual activity from even being posted? Or ban the users!?

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  2. Sarah Says: February 3, 2014 10:52 am

    Just browsing photos the other day, and it really doesn’t take long for you to find a whole host of pornographic images and now videos posted from not just porn sites but the general public too. I report the one’s I see but there are hundreds, probably thousands. I wonder if Facebook and Instagram are really doing enough. I’ve found images posted from weeks ago that are still visable. Just looking under the hashtag #cumm will give you 8,797 posts! And that’s just one example. Does the reporting actually do any good?! A friend of mine, her account got cancelled because she posted a photo of her little boys bare bottom. Yet you report nudity, pornographic, hateful speech against women, rape jokes etc and you still find the accounts open weeks later.

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  4. Jake Says: July 23, 2014 1:11 am

    Instagram, at this stage, may as well be called pornogram. You are one or two tags away from thousands of hardcore, violent, and in some cases even illegal pornographic images. In the past I’ve reported images only for Instagram to ignore the report. I’ve found explicit pornographic accounts with hundreds of pictures and videos as old as 62 weeks. I don’t doubt that there are ones that have existed even longer. Instagram either doesn’t care about cleaning up, or so many images are being posted that they are paralised by the sheer size of the problem. For all the cool things you can find on Instagram I, for one, wouldn’t let my kids anywhere near it.

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