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.

The 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?


About Chris Norton

Chris Norton is the founder of Prohibition and an award winning communications consultant with more than twenty years’ experience. He was a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and has had a varied PR career having worked both in-house and in a number of large consultancies. He is an Integrated PR and social media blogger and writes on a wide variety of blogs across a huge amount of topics from digital marketing, social media marketing right through to technology and crisis management.