Blocking search terms and aggregating others to identify trends typically becomes a focus at the end of the year, but a few end-of-year stories might have marketers scratching their heads. This one got me thinking whether marketers should take a more active role in policing where they market their services and products.
The Google not provided ordeal shook up marketers a bit when the engine made refereeing search keywords invisible, but many agreed with the move to rid child pornography from queries. Now we hear about Instagram's quest to block drug-related search terms to avoid becoming an "open-air drug market." Holy cow!
Apparently, kids search for "lean" on Instagram, where dealers post photos. Kids search for the stuff under terms like #lean and #drank, and then pay dealers using PayPal. Lean -- a cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine -- gets kids high. It's been around for years.
The BBC reports that Instagram, owned by Facebook, has begun to block searches for certain terms associated with the illegal sale of drugs, including lean. The news agency also points out a similar situation on YouTube. In fact, the Web runs wild with information about illegal stuff, everything from making bombs to guns to lean cough syrup cocktails.
The BBC reports that most drug-related activities appear to take place in the U.S. There are plenty of descriptions and photos to support the sale of illegal drugs.
How do you regulate an industry where those who built it believe in freedom of speech? Who takes responsibility for misprints, misguidance, and even death?