Home > DM for details. Selling drugs in the age of social media.

McCulloch, Liz and Furlong, Scarlett (2019) DM for details. Selling drugs in the age of social media. London: Volteface.

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In this report, Volteface aims to bridge the gap in understanding of how social media is being used as a marketplace for illicit drugs and the impact this is having on young people – social media’s primary user group. This report examines how prevalent this phenomenon is, which platforms are most likely to host this activity, what drugs are being advertised, how the platforms are being used, and what impact this is having on young people’s wellbeing, as well as the challenges facing social media regulators and law enforcement.

Social media is providing drug dealers with easy-to-use and familiar platforms that they can utilise to find and build trust with customers, advertise their business, and disguise their activities. Concerningly, Volteface’s research has shown that dealers have been quick to take up this opportunity, with one in four young people now seeing drugs advertised for sale on social media. The emergence of drug markets on social media is not simply a transfer of harmful activity from the offline world onto the online world. It is a new problem which presents new threats. Regulators and enforcers will not be able to tackle this new, illicit online drug market and minimise the harms associated with it unless innovative approaches are put in place.

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