Instagram Has A New Feature To Combat Substance Abuse

Instagram has recently been developing an innovative new feature to support its users. The social networking giant  is expected to announce a pop-up that is prompted when users enter words related to drugs or other harmful substances in the search bar. Hashtags like #opiod or #uppers will be monitored and trigger a "Can we help?" message which will then provide users a drop-down menu with a "Get Help" option. Selecting this option will take users to an information page containing various resources for seeking betterment such as a Treatment Services Locator, the numbers of Substance Abuse the Mental Health Services Administration's national helpline (1-800-662-HELP), and link them to the Addiction Resource Hub. 

The move comes after the company shared that various users employ hashtags like #opioids with the intent to promote the sale of the illegal drugs, (an act that is banned on the social networking service), but that the hashtags are also used by individuals battling substance misuse as a means of finding support within the community.

Instagram's head of public policy Karina Newton shared, "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.” The company also revealed that the pop-up message will be applied to more hashtags related to opoid, prescription, or illegal drugs in the coming months. 

The feature will be put into action in the US today, Wednesday September 12th, with plans for it to launched globally in the near future.

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