(Photo: Harrison Thane)
Young People Are Buying Drugs On Tinder And Instagram
Until the digital age fully swooped in, drug deals required a firm essence of street cred, burner phones and clever code-words. Now it seems even window-shopping for drugs on the dark net might be becoming old-fashioned, as a smartphone with Tinder downloaded is the latest way to buy and sell gear.
Our generation's hotbed for cyber flirting, along with other apps like Depop, Kik and Instagram, are providing a gateway for drug dealers to flog narcotics and young people the opportunity to buy recreational drugs, prescription medication and research chemicals. And this way of buying drugs is on the rise.
While on the latter apps, dealers are using quite obvious hashtags like #weed4sale and #mdma, on Tinder or Grindr you simply have to swipe until you match with a narcotics stockist, if that's who you're looking for. According to a Guardian report, the system is proving popular with teens and 20-somethings who are resorting to ordering from or meeting up face-to-face with matches to get their chemical goodies.
Weed, mephedrone and MDMA are common drugs available on social media and dating apps, but, to cover their backs, dealers are selling drugs as “research”. Though each platform has responded to the matter claiming they do not tolerate this sort of behaviour, it's difficult to track deals on apps where conversations are private and sometimes encrypted. Speaking on the matter, an Instagram spokesperson enforces:
“Promoting the sale of, or selling marijuana and other drugs is against our community guideline. We encourage anyone who comes across violating content to report it via our built-in reporting tools.”
The internet's assistance in buying and selling drugs is a game-changer for many who may not have IRL connections to dealers, yet where there's availability, there's threat – buying pills, powders and puff from strangers can be dangerous.
Along with the likelihood of being scammed, buyers risk getting caught and ingesting stuff with debatable chemical compositions. Law enforcement agencies are also anxious about the risks of young people connecting with dealers online but, for obvious reasons, it's hard for anyone to actually regulate drug deals.
This doesn't stop young people actually purchasing fun stuff on apps though. Gabbi, 21, tells me she bought MDMA two years ago from a girl she met on Tinder, and reckons buying on the app could even be safer than from some random drug dealer. She says:
"I think buying drugs on dating apps is no more or less safe than buying from a random street dealer – you're still accepting a substance from someone you don't really know.
"If anything it's safer because you need to link your Tinder to your Facebook [profile] so if something happened you could track the person easier than a random street dealer called "Frank'."
The Guardian's Leah Borromeo reveals young people aren't only connecting with dealers online to get high – parts of the LGBT youth community are buying gender transitioning hormones on apps and on the internet. Due to restrictions and bureaucracy in the NHS, trans individuals can't always get what they need, so go online and underground to access drugs crucial to transitioning.
While there are countless risks in buying drugs online, it's evident that systemic restrictions and legislation on drugs is only furthering people creating new ways to buy and sell. If we're worried about where our young people are buying drugs, why don't we quit waging war on them?
By Lydia Morrish, published on 08/04/2016