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On Facebook, explicit content is just a hashtag click away

Instagram bans sex, drugs, and curse words in tag searches, but they're all free to browse on its corporate owner: Facebook.


Kris Holt


Posted on Sep 3, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 7:32 am CDT

Last week, we published a list of search terms that were too hot for Instagram–from #breasts to #pornography. But while Instagram appears quick to ban racy content, it appears the company’s powerful corporate owner is lagging a little behind in the censorship race. Facebook lets you search for just about any type of porn you can imagine.

Facebook enabled clickable hashtags in June, allowing users to access a page of public posts which use a given tag. The goal was to  allow users to jump into public conversations surrounding certain topics, but also to challenge competitors like Twitter. But it appears the site has failed to police the terms with quite the same fervor as Instagram. 

When we searched a few of the banned instagram terms on Facebook, we found dominatrixes advertising fetish sessions and selling pornographic videos, escorts openly sharing their working locations and phone numbers, hardcore pornography, and even some of the most violent images of gore you can imagine.

People also use tags when looking to score drugs or to share photos of themselves smoking weed. Some users freely show themselves exhaling marijuana smoke, with their faces in full view. We’re not linking to any of these posts due to privacy concerns, but any Facebook user can easily find them.

Facebook shows no search results for some of the blocked Instagram hashtags highlighted by a site called The Data Pack, including #nipples, #boobs, #bigboobs #nsfw, and #xxx. This does not mean they are outright blocked, since Facebook’s tag search only shows results from the last week or so. But given how common these terms are on the Internet, it’s hard to imagine why nothing shows up if those tags are not blocked.

A Facebook rep told the Daily Dot in an email:

Just like offensive content, offensive hashtags can be reported and may be blocked.

We asked if Facebook did have a list of which tags were blocked and if they could share it.  “We do not share the list of blocked hashtags,” the rep replied. 

There are a number of reasons why tags blocked on Instagram are searchable on Facebook. Despite having a corporate parent, Instagram is run independently so it can choose which hashtags to block or allow without dealing with the huge Facebook’s huge corporate bureaucracy. 

Photo via quinn.anya/Flickr

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*First Published: Sep 3, 2013, 11:42 am CDT