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Tinder and Instagram See an Increase in Drug Dealer Activity

Liverpool Echo
You would think that most drug dealers would know better than to advertise their wares on a social media platform. It's easy to trace, and even easier to conserve the necessary evidence needed to convict. Regardless of this, the rate of dealer activity is increasing, and it's moving beyond Facebook and Twitter.

Instagram has been dealer territory for a while now, but it's fast becoming the most popular platform for it, whilst Tinder, Kik and Depop have all now joined the ranks. For the most part, it's just a case of hashtag searching the substance in question (#weed4sale, #mdma, #mcat, #2cb, etc), but obviously that's not applicable to Tinder.

On there, if you swipe through enough profiles in certain areas, you'll start to see profile images of weed or other drugs, and after that it's just a case of swiping right and organising the buy through direct messaging. If it's done by post, online payments are used, from the harder-to-trace Bitcoin approach to non-specific PayPal direct debits. The real issue with this is the target audience - young people.

When I was growing up, you knew who used and sold drugs in your local area, so if you had been inclined to buy, you'd have to speak to them. Most people started taking drugs because the people around them were doing it, but how does that picture change when you're buying online? At the very least, if you're surrounded by people who are on what you're on, you know it's at least somewhat safe, but when buying online, you have no guarantee that you're getting what you think you're getting, until you take it.

It's not just recreational drug use though, research has shown that some people are turning to the service to buy medication that they've had trouble accessing through the NHS, particularly anti-depressants, drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction (such as Viagra) and hormones for gender transitioning. The implications of this are very, very dangerous, not only in terms of the drugs themselves, but how they're being paid for.

It's no easier to catch people online than offline, and the greater risk comes from people being sold substances that aren't what they purport to be. The increase in sales on more public platforms is a red flag in and of itself, since it shows from the outset that dealers are being less cautious, which in turn means that they don't care who they sell to. Drug dealing is less harmful when conducted on an intimate, personal level. Still bad, obviously, but with a far greater chance of the people involved actually caring about each other's well being. This is something else entirely, and it needs to be addressed in a new way.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @Songbird_Callum

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Tinder and Instagram See an Increase in Drug Dealer Activity Reviewed by Unknown on Sunday, April 10, 2016 Rating: 5

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