Social Media Drug Dealers: How Apps Like Instagram Get Used to Sell Drugs

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Whether it’s through direct messaging on Instagram or Kik, social media drug dealers are taking the latest app crazes as their main domain. Beyond the streets are several ways to advertise and bring new clients to a dealer’s business without having to go through the depths of the darknet, meaning more accessibility to drugs for young people and more chances to fall into addiction.

Illegal activity is not foreign to social media platforms, which is why police and government agencies often ask for cooperation from sites such as Facebook and Twitter to solve cybercrimes or obtain digital evidence for cases.

This past Easter, Facebook dealt with controversy over a man, Steve Stephens, accused of uploading a video of himself murdering Robert Godwin in cold blood on Facebook Live. The video was posted for nearly two hours before Facebook took it down, sparking conversation about how fast should social media providers respond to content that depicts criminal activities and whether the content should have reached the public at all.

Want drugs? Look for the right hashtags on social media.

Unlike the “Facebook killer” case, social media drug dealers and their clientele don’t aspire to be noticed at all. Instead, they choose apps like Instagram, Tinder, Grindr, Kik, Whisper, or Yik Yak, which allow users to create pseudonyms or remain anonymous with their accounts.

But if you know what to look for, everything is laid out in plain sight.

It’s simple: Hashtags. There aren’t any secret codes to figure out which hashtag will lead to which drug; it’s pretty straightforward. Anyone looking for marijuana can simply look up #weed4sale or #kush4sale, and if they’re looking for specific “recreational drugs,” then they can easily find them under their specific names, like #mdma or #oxycontin.

On Instagram, users might look for photos that display piles of opioid pills or powder behind a Crema filter to bring out their whiteness, or an array of nugs and acid paper accentuated by trippy Perpetua to get them in the mood. Deals on Tinder are just a matter of swiping right until you find a local match.

And then once they’ve found their next hit, it’s all taken to Kik or Whisper, anonymous direct messaging apps where social media drug dealers will lend out details for payment and delivery.

Social media drug dealers don’t leave digital trails, don’t get caught.

With hashtags and photos so blunt about a not-so-hidden online drug market, it makes a person wonder why social media drug dealers don’t get busted more often.

But don’t get it twisted: There are many risks to buying drugs online. From getting scammed to getting caught, the plausibility of something going awry is high. Police go undercover on social media platforms all the time, knowing all the tricks of the trade to find their culprits. Yet, for some people, the risk is worth the gain.

Some precautions social media drug dealers make include: selling drugs as “research” to attempt plausible deniability if caught, doing sales transactions in person rather than online, or accepting payment via Amazon gift cards as opposed to traceable accounts.

There are dealers who take the risk of accepting money via PayPal or Venmo. Because these transactions can be viewed publicly, police officials can halt the entire operation, which can then be open to a search warrant.

If social media drug dealers don’t keep an eye on their digital tracks and accidentally get busted—whether online or on the streets—their entire online history is liable to build a case against them, meaning they could be charged for deals they made 20 years ago to today despite those deals not having been directly observed.

What it comes down to is this: yes, the Internet has made drug dealing easier—especially for young teenagers who otherwise wouldn’t have any connections to drugs—but with accessibility comes responsibility. Police are highly aware of social media drug dealers and continue day after day to cut off the cobra’s head and prevent as much addiction from spreading as they can.

Get smart like your phone and call Pathway to Hope.

People exhibit cries for help on their social media platforms, but they’re not always answered, whether by people not knowing how to spot the signs of substance abuse or knowing how to help the person struggling with it. At Pathway to Hope, we know how to help you or your loved one.

If you have questions about addiction treatment, like how to afford it or what the detox process will be like, then call our 24-hour helpline at (844) 557-8575 or contact us online, and one of our call agents will assist you right away. It’s time to change the status of your life and begin your recovery. That’s something all your friends and family will surely like.

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