Drug dealers are openly using Facebook to target children, a Daily Mail investigation reveals.
Scores of criminals are freely touting for business on the site and other social media giants including Instagram and Twitter.
Many are offering cannabis for sale. One dealer, when contacted, offered to sell cocaine. 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.
On Instagram, the picture sharing site owned by Facebook, an account with more than 22,000 followers appeared to be dedicated to verifying genuine cannabis dealers in the UK.
Last night, the social media sites were accused of failing to shut down ‘blatant’ law-breaking and of ‘aiding and abetting’ the sale of drugs. They have already come under fire for their alleged failure to restrict terrorist material or launch crackdowns on the activities of child abusers.
MPs and campaigners yesterday called for internet giants to face tougher sanctions over the continued failure to root out criminal activity.
A Government spokesman said: ‘We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online. 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.’
The Mail’s investigation followed a report earlier this month that warned that children as young as 13 were using social media to buy drugs online.
The report, from the charity Young Addaction, said dealers were using hashtags and emojis to advertise their wares, with a big rise in the trend in the last 18 months.
Now the Mail has found evidence of the alarming scale of drugs now being advertised on sites that are hugely popular with youngsters. Our reporter was able to find drugs offered for sale on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter within five minutes.
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SOURCE: BEN WILKINSON and TOM KELLY