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Drug crimes in the social media age

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2022 | Drug Crimes, Drug Related

The nature of drug crimes in Oklahoma and around the country has changed a lot in recent years. It’s becoming increasingly common to see drug deals happening online. Despite the risk of being caught, many people are using Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram to exchange illegal substances and money.

Social media drug sales

An independent drug research organization called Volteface looked into the issue of social media drug sales among young people. Volteface polled more than 2,000 social media users between the ages of 16 and 24, conducted interviews and held focus groups. Researchers determined that social media is a hotspot for illicit drug sales. Here are some of the key findings:

  • Twenty-four percent of respondents had seen illegal drugs advertised for sale on social media.
  • Among those people, 72% see illegal drugs being advertised at least once per month.
  • The most common drug advertised is cannabis.
  • The younger respondents were the least likely to be concerned about seeing drugs advertised for sale on social media.

Social media methods for selling drugs

People may face drug charges if they post photos or videos of what appear to be illicit drugs to their social media accounts. Researchers from Volteface say that drug dealers commonly use “stories” to update potential customers about their inventory.

Alleged drug dealers and customers might use code words or specific emojis to communicate. Volteface says that after drugs are advertised on public platforms, communication between sellers and buyers might move to encrypted messaging sites like WhatsApp. Researchers also found that PayPal was sometimes used to collect payment.

Lack of enforcement

Law enforcement face a lot of challenges identifying social media drug crimes since the activities are so new. Most police don’t understand the evolving codes that are used on public platforms, and encryption can elude them completely.


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