Leah Borromeo reports that drug dealers are taking advantage of the large, accessible and predominantly young user bases of social platforms and apps to reach out to new customers with ease.
Throughout the feature, Borromeo explains exactly how online dealers manipulate the conventions of these services to sell substances, which range from prescription medication and research chemicals to recreational drugs.
For example, dealers will use Instagram’s hashtag feature to advertise their drugs, or use Tinder’s swipe mechanism to connect with potential buyers.
After connecting with customers online, dealers will then either meet face-to-face with the buyer or setup an online payment – which are sometimes even carried out through traceable methods such as bank transfers and PayPal transactions.
Interestingly, she reveals that not everyone who buys drugs online are doing so for recreational purposes, with some young people in the LGBTQ community purchasing hormones for gender transitioning over the internet.
The article also outlines the difficulty law enforcement agencies are having when it comes to cracking down on online drugs transactions, noting that prevention, education and health services all have a crucial role in eradicating this behaviour online.
A numbers of platforms, including Instagram, Kik and buy-and-sell app Depop have provided comment on the matter, all saying that they do not tolerate this type of activity, and will work to reduce online dealing through built-in reporting tools and wider cooperation with the police.
Read The Guardian’s full article here.