Instagram makes it easy for teens to find drugs, report finds

The image is by Alex Castro.

According to a new report from the tech transparency project, the drug dealers' accounts were recommended to minor users. The report found that the platform suggests drug-related phrases.

The Tech Transparency Project created seven fake accounts for teen users. Drug-related content was still being searched for on those accounts. In one case, the platform auto-filled results when a user started typing. A suggested account was a Xanax dealer.

A fake minor user got a direct message with a menu of products, prices and shipping options after following the account of a Xanax dealer. A fake minor account that followed a dealer on the photo-sharing site was told to follow another account selling Adderall.

Tim Mackey, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, and founder of S-3, a company that tracks illegal drug sales online, told NBC News that he thinks that the photo-sharing app is one of the worst places for exposure to this kind of content.

The platform prohibits drug sales, according to a statement from a spokeswoman for Meta. We will continue to improve in this area in order to keep our youngest community members safe.

The report found that theInstagram's drug policies aren't working well. When fake minor users tried to search for the drug-related #mdma on the platform, it was suggested that they use the alternative #mollymdma. Otway told NBC News that the company will check for policy violations.

The report comes during a time of renewed scrutiny of how social media affects the mental and physical health of adolescents. A group of academic researchers published an open letter Monday calling for Meta to be more transparent about its research on the mental health of its young users. In October, Congress held hearings on the platforms after reports in The Wall Street Journal raised concerns about the mental health of young users. During those hearings, Sen. Mike Lee pointed to a report that found that Facebook approved ads for drug use and eating disorders.

Adam Mosseri is set to testify before Congress on Wednesday.