We are a technology company. We love technology, and we embrace it. And, we help others embrace it as well. But we also know that there are those out there that abuse it. Typically, we share the latest on what hackers are up to, and how to protect yourself from them. In this case, however, we have another group that we need to warn you about — drug dealers.
Drug dealers are leveraging the power, and vastness of social media to sell illegal drugs. With around seven in ten Americans using social media, it is an easy way for them to reach a fairly broad audience. Although the dealers aren’t limiting themselves to a specific social media platform, information suggests that Instagram and Snapchat tend to be popular avenues for selling illegal drugs. This means that they are primarily targeting a younger audience, typically those in the 13 – 29 age groups.
And, unfortunately, they are utilizing the algorithms that are built into social media platforms to spread their message. More specifically, they are using code words and hashtags to find new buyers. For example, just as you might search #runningshoes to find posts related to running shoes, they are using hashtags related to specific drugs, like Percocet, Prescription Pain Killers or Molly (MDMA) to help potentially interested parties find them. And, since social media platforms focus on serving relevant content based on your searches and activity, your feed may show more and more posts and images of drugs that can be purchased illegally even if you searched a drug-related hashtag simply out of curiosity.
At this point, we all know the internet can help us shop, buy, and have our purchases delivered quickly. It’s no different with illegal drugs bought over social media. In some cases, once a conversation and deal are made, an exchange location can be determined within minutes. In addition, the internet has even created the opportunity to access substances that someone may not have had access to without social media. Meaning, if they did not have a source for a specific type of drug in the past, they do now. All it takes is a bit of searching, something that many of us are comfortable doing. The drug dealer they find, however, is not someone they know. There is a level of anonymity for these drug dealers on social media, which also means that what they say they are selling you, may not actually be what you are buying.
The entire scenario creates an unsafe environment for the youth that is being targeted and those that ultimately purchase these illegal drugs through a social media site. The convenience, speed, and thought of avoiding law enforcement seem to be the draw of this way of buying and selling drugs. And although social media websites have policies against the sale of illegal drugs, drug dealers are finding ways around these policies.
Now you may be asking why an IT consulting firm in the San Francisco Bay area is writing about this. Frankly, this impacts us too. We all have a child, niece or nephew, neighbor, cousin, friend, or acquaintance that could be influenced by this new trend of and acquiring illegal drugs via social media. And, in our opinion, educating others on this topic is an important task. So now that you’ve read this, and understand that this is happening and that the youth are primarily being targeted, we have a request.
Share this information. Copy and paste the URL of this post into your social media feed. Go to our Facebook or LinkedIn page and hit the share button under this post. Print it out and mail it, if that’s your preferred method, just share it.
And, if you are a mentor to a young person, consider talking to them about this, and sharing the dangers that come with purchasing illegal drugs over social media (and purchasing illegal drugs in general). A conversation could prevent the purchase of a dangerous substance.