Tuesday March 20, 2018
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Twitter used by illegal online pharmacies to pedal drugs


New York: Illegal online pharmacies are using Twitter to promote prescription drug abuse of controlled substances.

“This study is the first to establish an empirical link between Twitter content and illicit online pharmacies which promote the illegal sale of drugs that have significant abuse potential,” said study co-author Timothy Mackey from University of California-San Diego.

“Our results are concerning, as the study found over 45,000 tweets that promoted drug abuse even though we only looked at a two-week period of tweets,” Mackey added.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), young adults are the biggest abusers of prescription opioid pain relievers, ADHD stimulants, and anti-anxiety drugs.

The study conducted surveillance and content analysis of over two million tweets using the Twitter public streaming application programming interface and used assisted machine learning.

Tweets were analysed to determine if they discussed drug abuse issues, whether they favourably promoted drug abuse behaviour, and were also examined to see if they directly enabled the illegal access to controlled substances by online pharmacies.

Mackey said the study findings are extremely troubling.

“When we examined links included in a subset of the tweets that discussed drug abuse, we discovered that 76 percent of these tweets included a link to an online marketing affiliate advertising the sale of the controlled substance valium, a tranquillizer that is commonly abused,” he said.

Buying prescription drugs from illegal online pharmacies also endanger consumers financial information, putting them at risk of identity theft, according to experts.

The study was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR). (IANS) (image courtesy:wsjgadjets.ndtv.com)

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Twitter reportedly working on Snap-like ad feature

The company reported $87 million in data licensing and other non-advertising revenue, up 10 percent from a year earlier

Twitter to soon release Snapchat like feature. VOA
Twitter to soon ban cryptocurrency ads. VOA
  • Twitter is working on a camera-first feature
  • This feature is similar to that of Snapchat
  • This can cause a clash between the two apps

Twitter is reportedly working on a camera-first feature that will let advertisers combine location-based photos and videos with “Twitter Moments” — curated stories about whats happening around — to sponsor events or place ads in between tweeted posts, media reported. According to a report in CNBC on Thursday, the move is seen to rival Snap Inc. which has been popular with advertisers.

Twitter will now also have the camera-first feature.

“With this change, the emphasis on the platform would change from text to video and images, giving advertisers a competitor to one of Snap’s most popular advertising opportunities,” three senior agency executives familiar with the development were quoted as saying in the report.

Snap collects location-based snaps around certain topics and displays them together as a highlighted post on its Discover tab — a feature that has proven popular with advertisers. Twitter’s feature would work in a similar way in Twitter Moments.

However, it is unclear when the feature would launch and it could still be refined significantly or scrapped entirely, the report said. Twitter has been going after new advertising business after it posted its first profit.

Also Read: Facebook, Twitter Urged to Do More to Police Hate on Sites

The company reported $87 million in data licensing and other non-advertising revenue, up 10 percent from a year earlier.

Ad revenue rose one percent to $644 million. Twitter reported a net profit of $91.1 million, compared to a loss of $167.1 million, a year earlier. IANS

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