Social Media Promotes Anonymous Buying and Selling of Illegal Drugs
As reported by VentureBeat.com in the article Instagram Has a Drug Problem (9/19), it has been reported that people can now easily and effortlessly buy drugs online through social media websites, particularly the Facebook-owned Instragram. Similar to the Silk Road website, which was known for illegal drug sales and has since been shut down, Instragram and other social media websites have proven to be more accessible and more user-friendly.
Instragram is a photo-sharing website and with the right combination of keywords, anyone can find top-quality pictures of drugs for sale. The article uses the example of searching for “#Xanax” and “#XanaxForSale” to show the thousands of results that pop up in the application. Because users can purchase these drugs with the virtural currency Bitcoin and can communicate with sellers through anonymous apps such as Kik Messenger, this illegal drug market is virtually identity-free.
Research has revealed that most drug sellers use applications such as Instagram strictly for marketing and encourage sellers to contact them through masked emails or phone numbers. Sellers pair their pictures with searchable hashtags of familiar names such as #Oxycodone, #Suboxone, or #MDMA. They also use keywords such as #OvernightDelivery to attract customers.
According to a study done by the Coalition For Drug Abuse, 80% of Instagram dealers sell marijuana while only 20% sell designer drugs and pills. Facebook, who owns Instagram, has only offered its generic disclaimer, claiming that any users who are reported will have their accounts disabled. On the bright side, agencies such as the DEA have been able to use Instagram and other websites to take down big-time drug dealers.
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