You might have heard of the dark web, but have you heard of Wickr?
We note that the subject contained in this article represents illegal activity in certain jurisdictions. Whilst we do not condone any acts which are contrary to any such laws, we understand that readers in those jurisdictions which have decriminalised cannabis may find this article of interest.
The Silicon Valley company initially launched Wickr as a social media messaging app, developed to perfection using $73m (USD) of investor money. Little did they know that the app would soon become a hub for online drug deals.
Wickr may now be known as a platform for drug dealers, however, prior to that Wickr was the number one messaging service choice for former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
Founded in 2012, Wicker is still going strong, unlike Silk Road, the first darknet drug purchasing marketplace.
Silk Road was largely considered to be a turning point for the online drug market, allowing users to purchase virtually anything, without it being traceable to the buyer.
After being shut down by the FBI in 2013, Silk Road took no time before returning with Silk Road 2.0. Silk Road 2.0 would subsequently also be shut down, only to then be replaced by AlphaBay, Hansa and Dream.
Dream and a few smaller companies still exist. However, AlphaBay and Hansa were shut down in July 2017, leaving Wickr to be the leading app for drug sales in 2019.
Similar to its competing platforms such as WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Messenger, the app can be used all over the world by simply creating an account. What differentiates Wickr is that the app incorporates end-to-end encryptions on all messages sent, including shared files, pictures and videos. This means users are proved with a guarantee that third parties are not able to access any data that gets passed in conversation.
Taking a page out of Snapchat's book, Wickr also has a setting that can be set to "destruct" messages after 24 hours. Users are also able to set timers for each conversation, they can choose from 1-6 days per message before it gets automatically deleted, making it a perfect way to interact without leaving a trace.
In a statement the company released, Wickr said that their app offers optimum security, meaning it would take trillions of years for anyone to be able to access the messages, that is, if they haven't already expired.
Though despite the app being created for legitimate use, it makes sense why it's become a popular place for communicating online drug deals. And for some black market cannabis enthusiasts, finding a dealer can be as simple as searching #Wickr on Instagram.
Most dark-web market places are not compatible for mobile use, while Wickr is free to download on all App stores and is also available to use as a desktop version.
With Wickr there is also no need for users to reveal their identity, and accounts can be set up using a made-up username, which is also why criminals have started misusing the platform to keep their activities under wraps.
According to an interview a Wickr dealer had with VICE, a direct deal is usually short and sweet: first, the customer message a dealer on their Wickr name, asking for a price list. Then they agree on a price and send the fee to their Bitcoin (or other cryptocurrencies) address. Finally, the buyer provides a postal address or organises a meeting location to collect their purchase.
While using Wickr is convenient for both sellers and buyers, there are of course downsides and dangers to buying marijuana or any other drug online. Most concerns are in regard to drug safety, as buyers will not be aware of exactly what they are paying for until they see it in person.
Another common risk buyers may face is the high chance of being scammed. Wickr users can't be tracked, therefore there is no guarantee that buyers will safely receive their drugs, that is if they receive anything at all.
It seems clear that as time goes on technology will continue to play an increasingly important role in the global cannabis industry. After all, the online market is constantly evolving and Wickr is just one example of that.
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