Hashbag: A New Site that Turns Instagram Into the World’s Weirdest Shopping Mall

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Narcissism and obsessive personal documentation are all fine and good, but sometimes you just want to buy and sell stuff. A new site promises to make that considerably easier to do just that through Instagram by restricting searches to postings with a #forsale hashtag and providing a simplified transaction system.

Hashbag (which sounds a bit like a Washington state cannabis startup) launched last week, born out of founder Mike Bodge’s dismay at the crazy-quilt of mercantile efforts being conducted through Instagram. Two million items a year are listed for sale via Instagram, but the process for completing a transaction varies with each user.

“When I looked at how they were selling, it was kind of a Wild West,” Bodge told The Daily Beast. “Some people would say ‘text me’ or ’email me,’ or ‘hit me up on WhatsApp,’ etc.”

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Hashbag starts with a search bar and a number of pre-defined popular search terms to comb through the hodgepodge of goods being hawked on Instagram.

Once you find something you want to buy, Hashbag connects buyer and seller and manages payment via PayPal, charging a flat 99 cents per transaction fee to the seller. If the seller isn’t a member of Hashbag, the site simply directs a buyer to the relevant Instagram photo, and the transaction happens via the “comments” button.

Items posted for sale on Instagram run a huge gamut, from packs of Instax film to a hand-carved wooden portrait of Donald Duck. Also the occasional (and prohibited) firearm and cannabis bud, but Bodge says Hashbag is working on filtering those out of search results.

(via Daily Beast)