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About this book

This book evaluates the impact of situational crime prevention measures implemented by social media platforms to identifying, blocking, and removing content linked to illegal traded medicines. It discusses the extent of social media usage in trafficking of medicines; the ease of access; visibility of the content; language of posts; products most traded; and types of posts. Research results support the hypothesis of the limited impact of these measures, due not to a lack of effectiveness but to asymmetrical implementation.

This volume will be of interest to researchers, law enforcement, policy makers, social media groups, public health practitioners.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
This chapter provides a general introduction on the illegal trade of medicines, the book’s rationale, and its structure.
Gabriele Baratto

Chapter 2. The Illegal Trade of Medicines: The Roles of the Internet and Social Media Websites

Abstract
The chapter provides a general introduction to the illegal trade of medicines, highlighting the extent and features of the criminal market, the definitions used in the book, as well as the role of the Internet and new technologies both in the demand and in the supply side. The chapter then focuses on social media, reviewing the existing literature on this field and highlighting six qualitative themes describing the role of social media in the online trade of ITMs before the implementation of the SCP measures analysed in the book. Such themes have then been transformed into six qualitative indicators and in the evaluation.
Gabriele Baratto

Chapter 3. Situational Crime Prevention Measures in the Illegal Online Trade of Medicines

Abstract
The chapter is focused on situational crime prevention. After some preliminary remarks on its main features, all the SCP measures elaborated and implemented to fight against the illegal online trade of medicines are presented, illustrating also their critical aspects, especially with reference to social media websites. After that, the chapter focuses on the SCP measure introduced by social media platforms aimed at identifying, blocking, and removing contents related to the illegal online trade of medicines. The chapter concludes by highlighting the need for an impact assessment of the interventions.
Gabriele Baratto

Chapter 4. Research Objective and Methodology

Abstract
The chapter illustrates both the objective and the methodology of the research presented in the book. Possible evaluation research designs are reviewed, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses and analysing which one is the more suitable for the purposes of the present research – i.e. a natural experiment with one group(s) post-test only design, using a non-equivalent qualitative pre-test. Then, strategies for data gathering and analysis are presented. In more detail, the methodology used consisted of systematic keyword searches on the three mayor social media platforms – i.e. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – after the implementation of the SCP measures in order to identify and analyse contents linked to the illegal online trade of medicines. The keyword list comprises 76 terms of two different types: 36 names of medicines, both generic and branded names, and 8 general terms in 5 languages – i.e. 40 keywords overall – referring to disease or condition and the medicines that are intended to treat them, or their therapeutic category. In order to assess the impact of the SCP interventions, data was analysed ‘vertically’ (i.e. by social media and by therapeutic category) and ‘horizontally’ (i.e. across social media and therapeutic category). Results (presented in Chap. 5) were compared to the situation existing before the implementation of the measures by using six qualitative indicators.
Gabriele Baratto

Chapter 5. Evaluation Results

Abstract
The chapter is divided into two main parts, following the data analysis scheme adopted in the research presented in the book. First, a ‘vertical analysis’ has been conducted, i.e. by social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and by therapeutic category – i.e. medicines for erectile dysfunctions, medicines to lose weight, medicines to enhance muscles, medicines to kill pain, psychoactive medicines (psychopharmaceuticals), medicines to sleep, antibiotics, medicines to quit smoking, and others. This systematically shows (with reference to the qualitative themes used as indicators in the evaluation) the current role of a specific social media in the illegal online trade of a certain medicinal category. After that, a horizontal analysis has been conducted in which the same indicators have been used to compare the situation before and after the implementation of the SCP measures. This assesses the overall impact of those interventions and highlights possible differences among social media and therapeutic category.
Gabriele Baratto

Chapter 6. Conclusion

Abstract
This chapter provides a synthesis of the evaluation results and some conclusive remarks. Then, new directions for further research are suggested
Gabriele Baratto

Backmatter

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