Taylor Hooton Foundation > Hoot’s Corner > General > Digital Weeds 2021: Illegal and/or Illicit Activity On Social Media Platforms Never Goes Away
March 15, 2021
Digital Weeds 2021: Illegal and/or Illicit Activity On Social Media Platforms Never Goes Away

The Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) published its first report looking
at videos on YouTube pushing illegal and/or illicit goods and
services in 2013. Around the same time, Eric Feinberg launched
the Global Intellectual Property Enforcement Center (GIPEC) with
patented software he created to look at the sale of counterfeit items on
Facebook. Feinberg would go on to help launch the Coalition for a Safer
Web (CSW), where he has looked for everything from hate speech to
violent crime videos downloaded to all the Internet platforms.
Many things have changed since 2013. Google, the parent of YouTube,
is now Alphabet. Instagram came along and shot past its parent,
Facebook, as a more popular destination for teens. Both Google
and Facebook, once enormously popular, respected companies, are
increasingly questioned by consumers as well as federal and state
regulators for their business practices.
But one thing stays the same – today, researchers can still find criminals
using the platforms to commit more crimes as the platforms seem unable
or unwilling to stop them. In fact, for this report, researchers found many
of the same kinds of illegal and/or illicit activity that was pushed by bad
actors the organizations had previously identified years before.
In this research, DCA and CSW findings demonstrate the following:
m Criminal activity and/or illicit activity highlighted in previous
research, such as the selling of opioids, steroids, and malware, can
still be found easily today.
m Many videos and posts shared in prior DCA and CSW reports and/
or with media contacts are still available across numerous social
media platforms.
m The platforms still have advertising from premium, respected
brands running next to videos and/or posts for illegal and/or illicit
DCA | CSW | Digital Weeds 2021
Illegal and/or Illicit Activity On Social Media Platforms Never Goes Away 3
m The platforms enable communications between drug pushers and
potential buyers. Whether by containing phone numbers and emails in
videos and/or posts or enabling for conversations to happen in chats.
m The platforms’ algorithms amplify connectivity between potential
buyers and sellers of illegal and/or illicit items. Researchers, acting
as potential buyers looking for drugs, showed that when they look for
drugs on Instagram, Instagram’s algorithm will in turn begin directing
drug sellers back to the potential buyer.
m When outed by media outlets, platforms will often take down specific
videos mentioned by reporters, but not address the larger problem.
This leaves consumers vulnerable to similar, or sometimes even the
same scams, that inspired the news coverage in the first place.
Researchers looked at YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. This report
includes screenshots of illegal and/or illicit activity. Researchers strongly
suggest you do not try to replicate this research without adequate
protection and expertise.

READ REPORT: https://www.digitalcitizensalliance.org/clientuploads/directory/Reports/DCA_Digital_Weeds_Report_2021.pdf?_t=1615581915