Drug dealers are openly peddling marijuana and cocaine to children on social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, an investigation by a London newspaper has found.
The tech giants are being accused of failing to shut down “blatant” law-breaking amid calls for tougher sanctions, reports the Daily Mail of London.
In 2012, WND published a four-part series of investigative reports exposing the widespread distribution of child pornograhy via Facebook.
On Monday, Britain’s Sky News reported more than 1,000 teenagers are being charged with spreading sex videos via Facebook in Denmark. Danish Police said some 800 boys and 200 girls were involved in spreading the explicit material from 2015 until the fall of 2017.
Facebook also has been under fire for censorship. Last week, for example, as WND reported, a crowdfunding site for a theatrical drama in production that promises to tell the “true story” of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that established a “right” to abortion was blocked by Facebook.
In the Daily Mail’s investigation, a reporter posing as a teenage boy found dealers on Facebook willing to supply him with drugs even when they knew he was still at school.
Over the weekend, British members of Parliament called for the Internet giants to face tougher sanctions over the continued failure to root out criminal activity.
“We want the U.K. to be the safest place in the world to be online,” a government spokesman said. “Anything that is illegal offline should be illegal online. We encourage people to report [anything] concerning to the police as well as … report such images to the app providers themselves.”
Earlier this month, a report by the British charity Young Addaction warned that children as young as 13 were using social media to buy drugs online.
The report, noting a big rise in the trend in the past 18 months, said dealers were using hashtags and emojis to advertise their wares.
A Daily Mail reporter found drugs offered for sale on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter within five minutes.
One dealer told a Mail reporter posing as a schoolboy to send a payment via the Post Office and he would deliver to his address.
The undercover reporter emailed back: “Will it be well disguised because I don’t want my mum to notice it if it arrives while I’m at school?”
The dealer replied, “Yeah mate it’s well packaged and sealed.”
The Mail said it took less than two minutes to find a U.S. dealer willing to ship 150 ecstasy (MDMA) pills to London.
Possession of Class B cannabis in the U.K. is a crime, and dealers can face up to 14 years in prison.
Nevertheless, the Mail reported, drug dealing online was increasing and Internet firms were “turning a blind eye,” according to youth drug worker Nick Hickmott of the charity Young Addaction.
He said Instagram was the “preferred choice” among cannabis dealers, and the dealing online is “just so blatant.”
“It is unbelievable that it is allowed to operate like that. They are the only ones that have the power to police it. If these big multimedia companies wanted to do something about it they could.”
Labour MP Helen Goodman said it’s “yet another example of social media firms denying the power and influence they have and failing to act as responsible citizens.”
“It will reach the point with these social media companies where there are so many problems that the government must … start looking at both legal changes and proper enforcement,” she said.
A Facebook spokesman said: “We encourage our community to report any activity like this using our reporting tools so we can quickly remove it.
“We recently announced we’ll be doubling our security team to 20,000 people over the next year to improve how we detect and remove content that shouldn’t be on Facebook.”
Instagram also said it encouraged users to report illegal activity, and Twitter said all users must agree not to use the site for unlawful purposes.
“By using Twitter, you agree to comply with all applicable laws governing your online conduct and content,” the spokesman said.