INSTAGRAM’S algorithms are connecting minors with drug dealers’ accounts, a new report from the Tech Transparency Project found.
The popular social media app also recommends drug-related hashtags, according to the report, which was released on December 7. 
The Tech Transparency Project (TTP) writes in the report that they created seven fake Instagram accounts for teen users aged 13, 14, 15, and 17.
Even though the accounts' settings clearly indicated the users were minors, Instagram did not prevent them from searching for drug-related content.
In one case, the app even auto-populated results, which included one Xanax dealer account, when the user started typing “buyxanax” into the search bar.
After following the Xanax dealer's account, the account then received a direct message (DM) that contained "a menu of products, prices, and shipping options,” per the report.
The TTP's investigation also found that the app helped the hypothetical minors' accounts connect with drug dealers claiming to sell Adderall, MDMA, and the highly addictive drug Fentanyl.
"It takes 20 seconds to connect with a purported drug trafficker. The accounts are telling you they are children, that’s the most shocking thing," Katie Paul, TTP’s director said.
"We prohibit drug sales on Instagram. We removed 1.8 million pieces of content related to drug sales in the last quarter alone," Stephanie Otway, a spokesperson for Meta, Instagram's parent company, said after TTP's report was published.
Earlier this week, Instagram announced its plan to launch several new parental-control features in March 2022. 
The features would allow parents to control the amount of time their kids spend on the app, as well as see who their kids report on the app.
The news came just before Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram is due to testify before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Mosseri is in the hot seat due to reports that Instagram knew for years about the damage it has inflicted on its young users, especially female teenagers who suffer from body image issues.
The Instagram head is expected to focus on the aforementioned control tools during the hearing.
He is also expected to speak on the potentially positive impacts of Instagram, such as helping young people to foster healthy online relationships and tackle loneliness.
In other news, Google has taken action against a major hacking operation that it thinks has infected more than one million devices.
iPhone owners are being urged to change their settings in order to protect their texts from snoopers.
And Apple has announced that it will let customers fix their own iPhones for the first time starting next year.
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