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October 22, 2019

Investigation Finds Social Media Platforms May Be Hot Bed for Athletic PED Sales

As the police have gotten smarter, many illicit performance enhancing drugs vendors have had to figure out new ways to make their sales. According to the latest research, it appears that using social media may be a new way for them to do this.

In our previous article, we noted that drug dealers have been using social media sites such as Google, Facebook (News - Alert), and Reddit to connect buyers and sellers:

“WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Americans who rely on illegal and potentially dangerous appearance and performance enhancing drugs to improve their physical appearance or step up their athletic performance are aided by drug dealers, Facebook and Google (News - Alert) -- according to a Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) / Global Intellectual Property Enforcement Center Worldwide (GIPEC) investigation.”

A new report, entitled: “Digital Platforms on Steroids,” researchers found that millions of Americans have begun using performance enhancing drugs (PED’s), and many of them are using social media sites such as Facebook to get them:

“Millions of Americans turning to illegal and potentially dangerous appearance and performance enhancing drugs (APEDs) to enhance their physical appearance or step up their athletic performance are being aided by three unlikely partners – drug dealers, Facebook and Google — a new Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) investigation has uncovered. The scheme uncovered by DCA during a six-month investigation (Feb. 2019 to July 2019) is simple: drug dealers advertise their “product” online and digital platforms turn a blind eye to illegal drug sales and promotions on their sites.”

In fact, the six-month study found that Facebook was even promoting specific pages which connected buyers and sellers, to thousands of athletes on their platform.

“Digital platforms seem only to take down illegal and/or illicit content when it becomes a PR problem,” said Tom Galvin, executive director of the DCA. “Thanks to Facebook and Google, a teen’s drug supplier is located in their phone, tablet, or computer,” he said.

Whether the users are trying to buy performance enhancing SARMs, illegal steroids, or nootropics such as modafinil, it seems that social media platforms are turning a blind eye.

In fact, the DCA investigation found the following:

“The DCA/GIPEC investigation found hundreds of examples of drug dealers selling performance and appearance enhancing drugs. It starts with a search. Google makes it easy by auto-completing a search, as seen below. DIGITAL PLATFORMS ON (News - Alert) STEROIDS: HOW FACEBOOK AND GOOGLE ENABLE THE SALE OF ILLEGAL APPEARANCE AND PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS 7 Once a user starts searching, the platforms’ algorithm takes over and steroids start searching for the user. The example below shows how Facebook’s analytics can find steroids-related content and offer up dealers. In this case, however, it’s to the wrong audience. Facebook recommends a European steroids supplier next to a post from the Taylor Hooton Foundation – the leading safety group raising awareness about the dangers of steroids.”

To many parents and teachers, this will probably seem unsettling. Such is life, in the digital age, where you can access anything you want with a few clicks of your mouse.

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