This presentation is on Televend, a new digital drug distribution method combining a darknet backend with a shop-bot messaging app frontend.
In 2011, the first darknet market, or cryptomarket, for illegal drugs (Silk Road) began trading. It marked a key innovation in digitally mediated drug trading, where buyers could purchase illegal drugs from an array of vendors with quality rankings, using anonymised browsers and currencies. Completing a purchase on a darknet market requires a high level of technical expertise. Many people are deterred by these requirements - and instead either stick to in-person exchanges, or utilise other digitally mediated channels including social media / messaging apps, which lack the security and quality checking features of cryptomarkets. Televend is a new hybrid form of digital market. Televend describes itself as "a direct deal platform which uses Telegram bots to interface with customers via a shop front inside the app and a Tor based .onion vendor panel for vendors to manage orders and customers, completely automated". Informed by observations and a specialist module of Global Drug Survey (data collected Dec 2020 - Mar 2021), Monica Barratt will address the following questions in this presentation: how does Televend work, who uses Televend compared with other sourcing methods, how does the use of different distribution methods intersect, and how do Televend users compare its use with darknet markets and social media/encrypted app trading in terms of risks and benefits.
About the speaker
Dr Monica Barratt is a drugs policy researcher at the Social and Global Studies Centre and Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT University, and holds an adjunct role at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW. Monica studies digitally facilitated drug trading, novel psychoactive substance trends and markets, drug checking or pill testing, and ways to increase meaningful involvement of people who use drugs in research and policy processes. Monica has published over 80 academic research papers and attracted over $4M in competitive grant funding, including from the NHMRC and NIH. She leads research at Bluelight.org, the Global Drug Survey and The Loop Australia, and also serves as an editor for leading journals in the drugs field: International Journal of Drug Policy and Drug and Alcohol Review.