Instagram criticised for accounts promoting knives disguised as lipsticks

Alien Outfitters is a U.S-based store selling cutesy self-defence items disguised as combs and lipsticks

Instagram has been widely criticised for not banning an account promoting a U.S-based webstore, Alien Outfitters. The store mostly sells very basic pink/holographic/pastel clothes and accessories with “DADDY” and “I BELIEVE IN ALIENS” blazoned across them, but the Telegraph is more concerned with the knives that are also available on the site.

As well as pink glass pipes, Alien Outfitters sell knives and knuckle dusters, some of which are disguised as combs and lipsticks but all of which are intentionally very cute. The website says that “All knives are intended for decorative and ornemental (sic) purposes”, but, obviously, that doesn’t actually stop anyone from using them. Importing these knives is illegal under our knife crime laws, but reportedly, some people have been buying them from the UK.

Patrick Green, chief executive of anti-knife crime charity The Ben Kinsella Trust, said that Alien Outfitters “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.” He told the Telegraph “from the colours, designs, and model names such as mermaid and fanciful rainbow, they are clearly aimed directly at young women. They look like toys. They are not toys. They are weapons that bring devastation to hundreds of families each year.”

While promoting violent images is banned on Instagram, it’s unclear whether what Alien Outfitters are doing is illegal. A spokesperson 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.”

All photos of knives and other self-defence items appear to be deleted from the Instagram, either by the store or as a result of being reported. All of the items are still available on the company’s webpage and Twitter.