Cannabis and Crisis Management

Its been a busy few months at Prohibition HQ and so I have been busy sorting out a number of new account wins. My next post will have some big news on that front but I will save that for later. However, here are two stories that caught my eye by offering a humorous and slightly worrying side to the news in the social web this week, both of which involve images of cannabis and poor regulation on behalf of Instagram and the housing brand Rightmove.

Instagram,  the world renowned photo based social site that helps people share their dinner was thrown into a crisis when some users begun using the service as an advertisement for their illegal drug trade, with photos of cannabis being uploaded and captioned.

telegraphThe text provided information regarding ‘placing orders’ which is a tad worrying. Instagram’s crisis management skills were tested after being ‘asked to respond to an investigation by #BBCtrending – a new social media series.’ Users are asked to report any suspect posts with staff at Facebook (the owner of Instagram) being expected to monitor and identify such images within 48 hours.

In a reactive measure to lessen the impact of the crisis, Instagram has now chosen to block searches for certain terms associated with the sale of drugs, as a means of preventing the illegal activity from continuing. It might seem like the easiest solution possible on Instagram’s behalf, however when running a social website centred on providing people the freedom to share photographs of their everyday lives, you can’t take too many measures to restrict users. Instagram is packed with pictures of less than salubrious activities, so it may have its work cut out there to stop everything.

In another similar crisis story, the property site Rightmove has also had issues with cannabis images on its site, after accidentally advertising a £130,000 property with an attached photo of a bedroom drugs farm which was previously raided by police. Social media users took to Facebook and Twitter to share the link, with one tweeter even stating the property was only a ten minute walk away.

In an effort to react and deal with the fallout, the listing the estate agent swiftly removed the image from the property. However, the story went viral on social media and lead to stories appearing on the Telegraph, Daily Mail, Mirror and Metro; going some way to show just how problematic a small picture of Wacky Backy can become or if you were hugely cynical (which you all know I am not) it could have been a great way to secure media coverage.

So do you think that these two brands have been negatively affected by these stories?


, , , ,
2 comments on “Cannabis and Crisis Management
  1. Not negative and maybe even a plus for Rightmove. It acted quickly to remove problem and the publicity just reminded people that the house selling site exists.

    But for Instagram it’s negative and just feeds into the media hysteria about the dangers of social networking sites. On general sites like Google it’s not hard to think of legitimate reasons for searching for illegitimate terms. However, a photo sharing site like Instagram that doesn’t really apply, people don’t really have a need to share illegitimate images. It’s unrealistic to think the actual images can be checked, but it’s much easier to be proactive in blocking search terms.

  2. I think you might be right with Rightmove and I thought it could be a plus because it got them some exposure. Not all publicity is bad publicity as we are always told.

    Instagram is full of images of illegal activity as is YouTube and I don’t know how it is going to stop it but I think it can control where its adverts are placed I suppose. The blocking of search terms should stop it – they will have to keep updating their list of words to block though as people try and beat the system.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *