A study by British Leah Moyle surveyed more than 350 consumers about their practices on these platforms.

Interviewed by Romain Geoffroy Posted today at 17h38

Time to Reading 3 min.

Many dealers today use Snapchat to connect with their customers. But the application to the little ghost is not the only one to be bribed by drug trafficking. Instagram, Wickr, Kik, WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram, Tinder … a study published in theInternational Journal of Drug Policy in January 2019 identified a dozen applications used by consumers to provide themselves.

Read our survey: Sales videos, deliveries and after sales services … how Snapchat has become the favorite app for dealers

The author and professor at Royal Holloway College, University of London, Leah Moyle surveyed more than 350 Australian, Canadian, British and American consumers in 2017 about their practices. It can only see the failure of the digital giants to offer safe content online. Faced with this helplessness, she believes that he is today "Crucial and urgent" that the authorities seize the subject by informing the young public of the risks it takes.

How do you explain this trend of the deal on social networking applications?

Leah Moyle: Dealers have historically benefited from technological advances to increase profits and minimize risk. It's no wonder that they are now migrating to secure email applications.

As for the buyers, our survey shows that they are rather young users, it goes from the teenager to the student of about twenty years, who use these apps most of the time to get in touch with the dealers of their own city. The sale, it goes through a meeting. The users we interviewed were all looking for a quick and convenient way to get drugs. In general, they were informed consumers and concerned about the security of their exchanges without having the technical level to buy on the Darknet with cryptocurrencies.

Does the availability of drugs on these platforms accessible to the greatest number present an additional risk?

While it is clear that these applications make the purchase of drugs more accessible, the greatest risk lies in the large number of substances made available. The applications offer a greater visibility to certain drugs hitherto difficult for young people to access. For example, we talked to young users of cannabis and MDMA who tried drugs that are usually available on prescription like Xanax and Oxycodone. Drugs they had never tested before these applications.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that social provision – that is, access to drugs by friends or acquaintances – is still the most common means of obtaining substances, particularly among young people. consumers. Our study also highlighted a strong concern about the traces left on social networks, which dissuades some.

Do you think Facebook, Snapchat and others are overwhelmed by what's happening on their platforms?

We know that these companies could do much more to prevent these trades from flourishing. The deletion of accounts is not very effective for example, because it inevitably leads to the creation of new accounts. I think that these platforms should focus on the most harmful practices, such as proactive advertising of drugs on spaces like Facebook or Instagram. Most important, however, is to inform about risk reduction.

Should the platforms communicate directly on drugs?

We must be as honest as possible with drug users about the risks they incur, when they buy them but also when they consume them. The novelty with sourcing on social networks is that buyers can see photos or videos of the drugs they order. Since the sellers clearly show their merchandise, some think it is a guarantee of quality. But no photo allows to know the composition of a drug, no photo is worth a scientific test. It is crucial to remember these basics and to educate young consumers about the risks they are taking.

Our section Substances and dependencies

Every day, millions of people from all walks of life, of all ages, take thousands of substances, with multiple origins and fabrications, some of which are illegal. But the drugs banned today were not yesterday, and may not be tomorrow. This section will explore these modes of consumption, the pleasures they provide, the problems they cause.