Social Media and Infoveillance

Ryan Haight was a teenager who died of drug overdose in 2001 after buying opioids over the Internet.  “I love you, Mom” were the last words Ryan Haight said to his mother as she kissed him goodnight.

Despite the Ryan Haight Act created in 2008 to regulate online Internet prescriptions, there are still an estimated 28000 online pharmacies that fail to adhere to legal and safety requirements.  Many of these sell controlled substances like opioids direct to consumers creating a dangerous eco-system for overdose.


Indeed, the proliferation of illicit drug sales and other healthcare "treatments" have spread throughout social media, much beyond the simple webpage online drug seller. All platforms now have illegal vendors who actively seek out and market to users of all ages.

The time and memories lost due to illicit drug and other sellers across social media cannot be replaced. We at S-3 want to prevent the tragedies like Ryan Haight, and work to engage technologies and research to stop these criminals.

Some of our work in this area includes:

Liang BA. Third parties should monitor online drug sales. Columbus Dispatch. 2019;  9 Nov.


Xu Q, Li J, Cai M, Mackey TK. Use of Machine Learning to Detect Wildlife Product Promotion and Sales on Twitter. Front. Big Data. 2019;


Li J, Xu Q, Shah N, Mackey TK. Detection and Characterization of Illicit Digital Drug Dealers on Instagram using Machine Learning. J Med Internet Res. 2019; 21(6):e13803.


Mackey TK, Kuo TT, Gummadi B, Clauson K, Church G, Grishin D, Obbad K, Barkovich R, Palombini M. ‘Fit-for-Purpose?’ – Challenges and Opportunities for Applications of Blockchain Technology in the Future of Healthcare. BMC Med. 2019;17:68.


Mackey TK.  Opioids and the Internet:  Convergence of Technology and Policy Issues to Address the Illicit Online Sales of Opioids. Health Services Insights. 2018;11.


Mackey TK.  Prevalence of Falsified and Substandard Medicines:  Still an Incomplete Picture. JAMA Network Open. 2018;1(4):e181685. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.1685.


Clauson K, Breeden EA, Davidson C, Mackey TK. Leveraging Blockchain Technology to Enhance Supply Chain Management in Healthcare: An Exploration of Challenges and Opportunities in the Health Supply Chain. Blockchain in Healthcare Today. 2018;1(1).


Mackey TK, Kalyanam J. Detection of Illicit Online Sales of Fentanyls via Twitter. F1000. 2017;6:1937.


Mackey TK, Kalyanam J, Katsuki T, Lanckriet G. Twitter-Based Detection of Illegal Online Sale of Prescription Opioid. Am J. Pub Health. 2017;107:1910-1915.


Kalyanam J, Mackey TK. A Review of Digital Surveillance Methods and Approaches to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse. Curr Addict Rep. 2017;4(4):397-409.


Mackey TK, Nayyar G. A Review of Existing and Emerging Digital Technologies to Combat the Global Fake Medicines Trade. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2017;16(5):587-602. [named as a top Blockchain academic paper during the Blockchain Connect Conference Academic 2019, SV Insight] 


Kalyanam J, Katsuki T, Lanckriet G, Mackey TK. Exploring Trends of Nonmedical use of Prescription Drugs and Polydrug Abuse in the Twittersphere Using Unsupervised Machine Learning. Addict Behav. 2017;65:289-295.


Anderson A, Mackey TK, Attaran A, Liang BA. Mapping of Health Communication and Education Strategies Addressing the Public Health Dangers of Illicit Online Pharmacies. J. Health Commun. 2016;21(4):397-407.


Katsuki T, Mackey TK, Cuomo RE. Establishing a Link Between Prescription Drug Abuse and Illicit Online Pharmacies:  Analysis of Twitter Data. J Med Internet Res. 2015;17(12):e280.


Mackey TK, Miner A, Cuomo RE. Exploring the e-Cigarette e-Commerce Marketplace: Identifying Internet e-Cigarette Marketing Characteristics and Regulatory Gaps. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015; 156:97-103.


Mackey TK, Aung P, Liang BA. Illicit Internet Availability of Drugs Subject to Recall and Patient Safety Consequences. Int J. Clin Pharm. 2015;37(6):1076-1085


Mackey TK, Cuomo RE, Liang BA. The Rise of Digital Direct-to-Consumer Advertising?: Comparison of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Expenditure Trends from Publicly Available Data Sources and Global Policy Implications. BMC Health Serv Res. 2015;15:236.


Cuomo RE, Mackey TK, Stigler P. The Economics of Counterfeit Avastin: A Geospatial and Statistical Analysis of Demographic Correlates to FDA Warning Letters. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2015;24(7):748-756.


Mackey TK, Liang BA, York P, Kubic T. Counterfeit Drug Penetration into Global Legitimate      Supply Chains: A Global Assessment. Am J. Trop. Med. Hygiene. 2015;92(6):59-67.


Mackey TK, Cuomo RE, Guerra C, Liang BA. After Counterfeit Avastin – What Have We Learned         and What can be Done? Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2015;12:302-308.


Cuomo RE, Mackey TK. An Exploration of Counterfeit Medicine Surveillance Strategies Guided          by Geospatial Analysis:  Lessons Learned from Counterfeit Avastin Detection in the U.S. Drug Supply Chain. BMJ Open. 2014;4:e006657. 


Mackey TK, Liang BA. Digital Iatrogenesis: Policy Advocacy to Prevent Patient Harm from Access       to Dangerous Medicines Online. Harvard Health Policy Rev. 2014;14(1):11-13.


Mackey TK, Eysenbach G, Liang BA, Kohler JC, Geissbuhler A, Attaran A. A Call for a Moratorium on the .health Generic Top-Level Domain: Preventing the Commercialization and Exclusive Control of Online Health Information. Global Health. 2014;10:62.


Mackey TK, Liang BA, Kohler JC, Attaran A. Health Domains for Sale: The Need for Global Health Internet Governance. J Med Internet Res. 2014;16(3):e62.


Mackey TK, Liang BA. Pharmaceutical Digital Marketing and Governance: Illicit Actors and Challenges to Global Patient Safety and Public Health. Glob Health. 2013; 9:45.


Mackey TK, Liang BA, Kohler J, Attaran A. The Fight over dot-health: Ensuring the Future of Health Information Online. The Lancet. 2013; 382(9902):1404.


Mackey TK, Liang BA. Dangerous Science: Online Promotion of Unproven Stem Cell Therapies and Global Health Risks. J Comm Biotech. 2013;19(4):19-28.


Mackey TK, Liang BA, Strathdee SA. Digital Social Media, Youth and Non-Medical Use of Prescription Drugs: The Need for Reform. J Med Internet Res. 2013; 15(7):e143.


Liang BA, Mackey TK, Archer-Hayes A, Shinn L. Illicit Online Marketing of Lorcaserin Before DEA Scheduling. Obesity. 2013;21(5):861-864.


Mackey TK, Liang BA. Global Reach of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Using Social Media for Illicit Online Drug Sales. J Med Internet Res. 2013;15(5):e105.


Liang BA, Mackey TK, Lovett KM. Illegal “No Prescription” Internet Access to Narrow Therapeutic Index Drugs. Clin Ther. 2013;35(5):694-700.


Mackey TK, Liang BA. Oncology and the Internet: Regulatory Failure and Reform. J Onc Prac. 2012;8(6);341-343.


Lovett KM, Liang BA, Mackey TK. Online Direct-to-Consumer Access to Insulin: Patient Safety Considerations and Reform. J Diab Sci Tech. 2012;6(6):1503-1506.


Liang BA, Mackey TK, Lovett KM. Suspect Online Sellers and Contraceptive Access. Contraception. 2012;86(5):551-556.


Liang BA, Mackey TK, Lovett KM. Emerging Dangers from Direct Botulinum Access and Use. J Homeland Sec Emerg Manag. 2012;9(1):art.9.


Lovett KM, Mackey TK, Liang BA. Evaluating the evidence: direct-to-consumer screening tests advertised online. J Med Screen. 2012;19:141–153.


Mackey TK, Liang BA. Separating Online Piracy from Counterfeit Medicines: The Need for Policy Reform and a Call to Action. Health Policy Tech. 2012;1(3):120-122.


Liang BA, Mackey TK. Stem Cells, Dot-Com. Sci Trans Med. 2012;4(151):151cm9.


Liang BA, Mackey TK. Sexual Medicine: Online Risks to Health-The Problem of Counterfeit Drugs. Nature Rev Urol. 2012;9:480-482.


Mackey TK, Liang BA. Global Health Policy Coordination to Address Neglected Tropical Diseases. Trop Med Inter Health 2012;17(9):1053-1056.


Mackey TK, Liang BA. Promoting Access to Biosimilars: A Public-Private Partnership Model for Biosimlar Development in Underserved Populations. GaBI J. 2012;1(2):84-88.


Lovett KM, Liang BA, Mackey TK. Risks of Online Direct-to-Consumer Tumor Markers for Cancer Screening. J Clin. Onc. 2012;30(13):1411-1414. 


Liang, BA, Mackey TK. Creating Illicit Laparoscopic Appendectomy Operating Rooms Using Online Sourcing. Am Surg. 2012;78(4):502-503.


Mackey TK, Liang BA, Lovett KM. Waking Up to the Risks of Online Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Sleep Apnea Screening Tests. J Clin Sleep Med. 2012;8(1):5-6.


Liang BA, Mackey TK. Online Availability and Safety of Drugs in Shortage: A Descriptive Study of Internet Vendor Characteristics. J Med Internet Res. 2012;14(1):e27.


Liang BA, Mackey TK. Vaccine Shortages and Suspect Online Pharmacy Sellers. Vaccine. 2012;30(2):103-105.


Mackey TK, Liang BA. The Global Counterfeit Drug Trade: Patient Safety and Public Health Risks. J Pharm Sci. 2011;100(11):4571-4579.


Liang BA, Mackey TK. Prevalence and Global Health Implications of Social Media in Direct-to-            Consumer Drug Advertising. J Med Internet Res. 2011;13(3):e64 doi:10.2196/jmir.1775.


Mackey TK, Liang BA. Promoting Online Drug Safety: Using Public–Private Partnerships to Deter Illicit Online Drug Sales. J Comm Biotech. 2011;17(3):266-271.

Liang BA, Mackey TK. Reforming Direct-to-Consumer Advertising. Nature Biotech. 2011; 29(5):397-400.


Liang, BA, Mackey TK. Direct to Consumer Advertising with Interactive Internet Media: Global Regulation and Public Health Issues. JAMA. 2011;305(8):824-825.


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