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Instagram under fire for account selling knives disguised as combs and lipsticks

'They are glamorising these knives as fashion accessories'

Rachel Hosie
Sunday 21 January 2018 11:35
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Instagram has come under fire for allowing users to promote knives disguised as lipsticks and combs, which are banned in the UK.

The online store Alien Outfitters, based in North Carolina, sells knives targeted towards women amongst various other products and the company uses Instagram to promote its wares.

However, the knives are often bought in the US and imported to the UK, according to The Telegraph.

Importing such knives is illegal in the UK under the country’s knife crime laws.

Some of the knives aren’t disguised as other products but many have lavish designs and embellishments.

They’re cheap too - a knife disguised as a comb costs £9.03 and a lipstick knife costs £11.55.

On the Alien Outfitters website, they state that the knives are for “decorative and ornamental purposes” and for over-18s only.

However many people have revealed their disgust at the account.

“Instagram’s action in hosting this site is reprehensible,” said Patrick Green, chief executive of anti-knife crime charity The Ben Kinsella Trust.

“They are glamorising these knives as fashion accessories. This is a forum where young people openly encourage each other to break the law by buying flick knives and concealed knives which are illegal for any age group.”

In many pictures, the knives are modelled by glamorous women with manicured nails and elaborate makeup.

“From the colours, designs, and model names such as mermaid and fanciful rainbow, they are clearly aimed directly at young women,” Green explained to The Telegraph. “They look like toys. They are not toys.

“They are weapons that bring devastation to hundreds of families each year. The vendor goes to great lengths in the small print to distance themselves from any liability, clearly indicating that they understand the dangers that these knives pose.”

Promoting violent images is banned on Instagram, but whether glamorising knives falls under this is unclear.

A spokesperson for Instagram said: “Illegal activity is not allowed on Instagram. Our guidelines clearly state that people must always follow the law when offering to sell or buy goods.

“People can report content they think is against our community guidelines using our in-app tools.

“Our global team of reviewers check these reports 24 hours a day and move quickly to remove any violating content or accounts.”

The Independent has contacted Alien Outfitters and Instagram for further comment but is yet to hear back.

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