Home Tech Eventbrite promoted the illegal sale of opioids to people seeking help recovering from addictions

Eventbrite promoted the illegal sale of opioids to people seeking help recovering from addictions

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Eventbrite promoted the illegal sale of opioids to people seeking help recovering from addictions

“Listings like these have no place on Eventbrite,” Chris Adams, the company’s head of platform products, tells WIRED in a statement. “This is a spam attack, coordinated by a few bad actors trying to drive audiences to third-party sites.” Adams says Eventbrite is taking the issue “very seriously” and that “the identified illegal and illicit activity has been removed.”

Eventbrite help center says uses a “combination of tools and processes” to detect content that goes against its rules. These include, according to its pages, the use of machine learning to proactively detect content, a “rules-based” system, responding to user reports and human reviews.

“Our investigation determined that this is abnormal activity, misuse of the Eventbrite platform, and based on our findings, Eventbrite did not make any profits from these listings and no completed ticket purchases have been identified,” Adams says.

Eventbrite appears to have removed most, if not all, of the illicit listings that WIRED identified after we alerted the company to the issue. However, because of the way WIRED collected the data, the thousands of listings found on Eventbrite are probably the tip of the iceberg. WIRED obtained the data used for its analysis by collecting listings that Eventbrite deemed “related” to hundreds of events found through simple keyword searches. These keyword searches and their related events may not capture the entirety of illicit events posted on the platform.

Even within this limited data set, our analysis found that, on average, 169 illicit events are published daily.

The vast majority of listings WIRED found used common tactics, whether promoting drugs, escort services or online account details. Spammy pages often appeared as online “events.” Events do not actually happen, but rather act as a way for posters to post their activities online. Most of them were free; however, some attempted to charge people to “attend” through Eventbrite. It is unclear if anyone has paid for any of the events.

Searching for various controlled substances, including brand-name opioids, returned results on Eventbrite. These “events” mostly steered people away from the platform and toward online pharmacy websites, which say people can buy medications without a prescription.

John Hertig, an associate professor at Butler University’s School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, says there are thousands of online pharmacies operating at any given time and the vast majority of them are illegal, with websites often selling medications. not approved by the FDA or that do not comply with requirements. be licensed in the country where they sell.

“The other major problem we see in terms of illegality is that no prescription is required,” Hertig says. “You see a lot of this: ‘simple process, no complications, no need for a doctor.’ “That is illegal.” Typically, accounts that claim to sell medications through unofficial platforms, such as those on Eventbrite, are not doing so legitimately, Hertig says, and that carries risks as to whether what they sell is safe.

In addition to the websites, those claiming to sell illicit services on Eventbrite forced people to chat privately on WhatsApp or Telegram. Our analysis identified up to 60 unique Telegram accounts and 65 WhatsApp numbers in the data set. WhatsApp spokesperson Joshua Breckman says the platform encourages users to report suspicious activity and will respond to valid requests from authorities. Telegram did not respond to a request for comment.

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