Ashly Fuller


RESEARCH TITLE: The Commercialisation of Illicit Drugs to Young People through Social Media

Abstract: The online purchase of illicit substances has been happening on the dark web, but in recent years commercial activity has moved to popular social media apps. Teenagers can now buy and sell illicit substances through Instagram or Snapchat, without having to physically leave their homes. In a couple of clicks, posts advertising the sale of cannabis, cocaine, or ecstasy can be easily found. This has led to an increasing number of teenagers dying of overdose, given the accessibility and perceived trust when buying drugs through social media. My PhD project has 3 key objectives: to measure the extent of this issue cross-nationally, to evaluate the effectiveness of preventive solutions and to successfully implement these within policy strategies. This research will be using various disciplinary frameworks, including social sciences, public policy, crime and computer science methods. User-generated data and young people’s views will be combined to effectively detect and counter the harm caused by the advertisement and sale of drugs. Collecting cross-national data on terminology used to bypass detection such as emojis is crucial for social media companies to better target these posts and improve reporting systems. The findings of this research will enable to propose implementable policy solution in the hope for cross-national and institutional collaboration among concerned actors.

About Ashly – click here to [read more]I was born and raised in France but come from an English-Colombian background. I hold a BSc in Social Sciences from UCL and a MSc in Comparative Social Policy for the University of Oxford. My research interests lie at the intersections of technology and social policy. I have always been driven to integrate topics of data and technology to the social sciences, reflecting my enthusiasm in linking qualitative and quantitative paradigms. Previously, I researched the relationships between innovative technologies such as cryptocurrency or blockchain and public trust in charities. I also examined the effects of EU policies on levels of digital skill inequality.

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Ashly is a PhD researcher at the UCL Dawes Centre for Future Crime.


Speaks English, Spanish, French