As social media rises, so does celebrity use of social media. Through Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram, people can get in touch with the day-to-day of some of their favorite media icons. But what happens when drugs get involved? When celebrities use their social media accounts, often with millions of followers, to publicize their drug use? Could it be contributing to the rise of substance abuse and addiction?
We went on mTurk.com and got users to comb through celebrity Instagram accounts, totaling data on various actors, musicians and socialites to determine which celebrities might be glorifying substance abuse–and possibly inspiring addiction–through being the most frequent posters of photos and videos containing drugs and alcohol.
The Rise of Instagram
Right around the beginning of 2012, Instagram use began to grow. Over the past two years, you can see — through recorded Google searches for the site — Instagram becoming the social media giant it is today.
Celebrity Instagram Activity
Of the celebrities we looked at, Snoop Dogg was the most active Instagram user of them all. Fellow rappers Meek Mill, Waka Flocka Flame, and Diddy make up the top four most active Instagram users we researched.
Drugs – In terms of sharing drugs on Instagram, Devin Dude leads the way with 20.52 percent of his posts featuring drugs. It is worth mentioning that when we say drugs, 99 percent of what we’re talking about is marijuana. Considering marijuana is now legal in several states, this was not surprising. Also not surprising: Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame stands behind Devin Dude with 14.16 percent of his posts containing drugs. Cypress Hill was third most frequent to feature drugs in Instagram posts, with 13.29 percent of posts containing drugs.
Alcohol – When it came to Instagramming booze, rapper Birdman was the most frequent sharer with more than 8 percent of his posts featuring alcohol. Colleagues Rick Ross and Diddy were the second and third most frequent sharers with 8 percent and nearly 7 percent, respectively.
Drugs & Alcohol – When you look at the data on who’s most frequently sharing posts that contain drugs and alcohol, Devin the Dude comes in at the top with almost one-fourth of his posts containing substances. Wiz Khalifa wasn’t a top-three sharer of drugs or alcohol individually, but when combined, he is the second most frequent to post both substances to his Instagram with almost 16 percent. Tommy Chong’s 14 percent of posts containing drugs and alcohol put him as the third most frequent sharer.
Photos Containing Drugs and/or Alcohol
When you look at the numbers in a different way — of sheer volume of posts containing substances, one not-so-surprising name stands alone as the King of Instagram Intoxication, Snoop Dogg. The rapper, who has once bragged on Reddit as having smoked 81 joints in a day, has posted 686 photos containing drugs and/or alcohol over our timeline. Rappers round out the entire top eight of our Intoxicated Instagrammers. Musicians, mostly rappers, are 17 of the top 18 spots.
Volume of Celebrity Drugs & Alcohol Posts
Here, we can see the growth and decline of celebrity Instagram shares of drugs and alcohol images each month since 2011. It’s clear that sharing drugs has decreased significantly as the social media platform has become more prominent, but sharing alcohol posts has risen as the site’s popularity has surged.
Celebrity Influence on Instagram
As Instagram has grown more popular, so has its popularity with celebrities, some of whom use social media to candidly and directly interact with fans. When drug use comes into the equation, we have to wonder what kind of message is being sent. Are celebrities promoting drug and alcohol abuse? If Snoop’s lighting up right now, why don’t I? If Birdman’s having a beer, why shouldn’t I pop open a can? Also, are celebrities encouraging people to post their own alcohol and drug use online? Might be best not to post that picture of you lighting up on your Instagram account if you’re looking to keep a job. Don’t let celebrity drug use influence your own behavior. Know the risks of drug and alcohol abuse — and know the risks of posting it, too.
Compiling a list of known celebrities, we enlisted Amazon’s Mechanical Turk workforce to scrape through these Instagram accounts for all instances of drug and alcohol photos through September 2014. Each photo was combed through for various substances, and marked as “drugs,” “alcohol,” or “both drugs and alcohol” to determine each celebrities total number of photos containing these substances.
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