A minority of Silk Road customers are going social media-happy, bragging online about their latest illegal drug acquisitions, reports The Daily Dot.
You can read up on The Silk Road here, but to condense it: it’s an anonymous marketplace that makes it possible for a buyer and seller, usually of drugs (but a number of other things for sale), to protect their identities and safely arrange an online transaction. It’s an Amazon/eBay hybrid that specialises in contraband.
You have to be a little tech-savvy, slightly aware of how privacy works, and very discreet in order to successfully complete a Silk Road purchase. Transactions are made using an untraceable digital currency called Bitcoin and users will often communicate with each other using PGP encryption. Furthermore, the entire storefront operates on the Tor network, a layer of the Internet that remains invisible to more popular browsers like Chrome and Firefox.
Unfortunately the even-tempered and privacy-obsessed attitude that goes into buying drugs online runs directly counter to social media’s siren song of “Share! Share! Share!” But why would you confess to buying drugs online? You’d have to be pretty stupid, right?
The Daily Dot points to several examples of teenagers tweeting pictures of their LSD purchases, asking on Tumblr if it’s safe to order drugs to a certain city, even posting a picture of your latest DMT score right next to a picture of your face. Some might even be so thoughtful as to include the #silkroad hashtag.
This is insane. Many of these people have their real names attached to their posts. Perhaps they tweet about their jobs or something identifying about where they live. If you want to turn your social media accounts into crime scenes, someone will figure out who you are.
This is an excellent reminder about the human element of security. You can encrypt communications, you can delete records, you can change passwords. All these things matter and they go a long way towards protecting your identity. But you can’t really undo a Facebook post that your mum sees.
Careless users could be the very undoing of Silk Road. By tweeting first and not even stopping to ask questions later, they give away details about themselves, the illegal substance they possess, and, in some instances, details about the vendors that sell the item. Not a happy situation for either party.
It bears repeating that this is an exception to the rule. An overwhelming majority of Silk Road users are discreet and competent. They aren’t the type of people who would post pictures of their stash. That’s just the Internet’s version of a showboating street thug who needs to remind everyone how cool he is.