Bans on Instagram hashtags met with mixed feelings

Bans+on+Instagram+hashtags+met+with+mixed+feelings

Molly Mehle

Social media is used part of  daily. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and  other  top sites popularized today, it’s easy for people to do what they want from behind a computer or phone screen and a keyboard. Social media brings the discussion of freedom of expression, which a lot of people take seriously. Because of this freedom, some find it OK to post whatever they want online without penalization.

Instagram, generally used in the form of an app on the iPhone, is basically just a site used to post pictures. People may use it to post pictures of flowers or animals, while others use it for more explicit purposes. Users can search certain hash tags to pull up posts with that word or phrase. The ability to search for specific hash tags on Instagram brings up conflict today regarding what is and isn’t appropriate to be able to search. Recently, searching for some hash tags that may not be so tasteful has been banned. Some may appreciate the effort, while others might object.

Many RBHS students spend time during the day on the social media site Instagram. Recently several specific hashtags have been banned. Photo by Mikaela Acton.
Recently several specific hashtags have been banned from the Instagram site. Photo by Mikaela Acton

“I feel like the bans still aren’t going to stop people from trying to look up certain things,” sophomore Allie Dockins said. “Plus, what someone might think is inappropriate could be different than what someone else thinks is. So I don’t know how you can really set boundaries on that.”

Deciding what is and is not deemed “appropriate” for hash tags on Instagram could vary. Some may find things more or less offensive than others. Getting rid of the ability to hash tag certain things on Instagram may seem efficient, but will doing so get people to actually stop posting pictures associated with bad words or phrases is the real question.

“I don’t think taking away hash tags will really do anything. The hash tags aren’t the problem; it’s the pictures people put up,” freshman Lauren Brummett said. “The hash tags are just the odds and ends of it.”

According to Instagram’s blog, it will no longer “allow accounts, images, or hash tags dedicated to glorifying, promoting, or encouraging self-harm.” Instagram has control over its users and what they post and will from now on automatically disable any accounts that promote anything the site considers inappropriate.

Now, when banned hashtags are searched on the app, the result either reads “no search results” or “this tag cannot be viewed.” Some say the ban helps provide a site that is appropriate for those using it.

“I think that with the banning of hashtags and the way they’re trying to filter it, it’s the equivalent to search engines on other social media websites,” RBHS English teacher Bree Engebritson said. “It’s good to take those precautions, but it’s also the parents’ responsibility to shield their kids from seeing that type of stuff. I feel like the use of social media is getting more popular among younger kids so it’s good they’re trying to block them from looking at bad things. I think it’s good Instagram is trying to watch what’s on its website, but it’s also hard to monitor that and I think it’s mainly up to the person and the family to prevent searching bad things.”

As of now, more than 200 hash tags are banned, such as #nude and #weed. Users can still have the inappropriate hash tags corresponding with their posts; they just can’t be searched by others for viewing. Although this movement may be an attempt at preventing using the app inappropriately, some find that it ultimately isn’t necessary and won’t have much of an impact on people.

 “I think it takes away from freedom of expression,” senior Caroline Sundvold said. “Maybe parents could take action and have some control over what their kids post and look at, but I personally think you should be allowed to do whatever. If people want to post or search something, it’s their choice.”

Some hash tags now come with a warning message that reads “Please be advised: These images may contain graphic content” when searched. Some hash tags, such as #iPhone, are banned simply because they bring too broad of a search result and can be used to spread spam. Instagram isn’t just used by teenagers or people older than that; a lot of young kids are using it today as well.

“I don’t think banning the hash tags is really going to stop people from putting bad things on Instagram,” senior Erin Concannon said. “Although the whole hash tag banning won’t affect me personally because I don’t usually even use hash tags, I do think it will be a good step towards making Instagram a more child friendly environment.”