Investigative journalists have figured out that anabolic steroids are being sold on Instagram.
Any bodybuilder with a casual interest in anabolic steroids will quickly learn that the muscle-building drugs are being openly sold all over social media nowadays. It’s easy to find someone selling steroids on various social media platforms. The Sunday Times has decided to shine the spotlight on Instagram. Instagram is a popular photo- and video-sharing platform wholly-owned by Facebook.
Steroid availability on Instagram and other social media sites is “out of control” according to one researcher cited by The Sunday Times.
Dr Channa Jayasena, a Clinical Senior Lecturer and Consultant in Reproductive Endocrinology and Andrology at Imperial College and Hammersmith Hospital in London, criticized the utter lack of regulation when it comes to the steroid marketplace on social media.
“Everyone has the feeling that this is a growing problem,” Jayasena said. “There is a real underworld of activity where men are in contact with sellers of anabolic steroids and this is going on completely unregulated. This is a rapidly evolving area of medicine that we have sleepwalked into.”
Of course, it is illegal to sell anabolic steroids in many countries including the United Kingdom where The Sunday Times is based. Anabolic steroids are designated as a “Class C drug”. This makes them illegal to sell but legal to possess.
Facebook insists that it is doing its best to block steroids sales on its platforms, including Instagram.
“We don’t allow the sale or purchase of illegal or prescription drugs on Instagram and we work closely with the police to detect and keep illegal material off our platform,” according to a Facebook spokesperson. “We encourage anyone to report this kind of content immediately so that we can review and take appropriate action.”
The Sunday Times notified Facebook that a search for “Dianabol” resulted in 31,000 posts mentioning the oral steroid drug. Many of those posts were shared by buyers and sellers of Dianabol.
In response, Facebook blocked users from searching for the hashtag “Dianabol”. Facebook prevents users from searching for certain steroid-related hashtags as one example of its attempts to keep illegal drugs off its platform.
However, users can circumvent these measures by searching for other steroid-related terms. One easy way to find steroids is to search for the UGL brand names.
Facebook may block hashtag searches for these keywords after they are notified. But they do not appear very proactive in stopping steroid users for using their platforms as a steroid marketplace.
Shukman, H. (January 6, 2020). Sale of steroids ‘out of control’ on Instagram. Retrieved from thetimes.co.uk/article/sale-of-steroids-out-of-control-on-instagram-5373kwb5g