Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Saturday, Feb 04, 2023

Snapchat fights drug dealing on app amid surge in youth overdose deaths

Snapchat fights drug dealing on app amid surge in youth overdose deaths

Improved automated drug detection systems and enhanced partnerships with law enforcement are among changes

Snapchat has announced new efforts to combat drug dealing on the platform, changes that come as drug-related deaths among US high school and college-aged youth are exploding.

The company said it has improved automated drug detection systems, enhanced partnerships with law enforcement, and launched a new portal educating users on the dangers of drugs.

“Our position on this has always been clear: we have absolutely zero tolerance for drug dealing on Snapchat,” the company said in a blog post announcing the move this week. “We have a unique opportunity to use our voice, technology and resources to help address this scourge, which threatens the lives of our community members.”

The new steps come after the CDC warned in late 2021 of a major spike of drug overdoses driven by fentanyl, with young people being the most impacted. The cheap, synthetic opioid is up to 100 times more potent than heroin and is often mixed into counterfeit pills that young people buy on social media, mistaking them for pharmaceutical drugs.

Fentanyl fatalities rose to more than 93,000 in 2020, a 32% increase from 2019. According to a recent Guardian analysis of federal data, youth under 24 have been the hardest hit, with drug deaths up by 50% in that age group.

“Every drug you try now is a game of Russian roulette,” Shabbir Safdar, director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines, a non-profit fighting pharmaceutical counterfeits, previously told the Guardian.

Pills labelled as Oxycontin, Percocet, Xanax or Adderall are readily available on platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and Craigslist, studies have shown. A recent report from the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) found that Instagram offers an instant “drug pipeline” for kids that enabled them to find drugs with just a few clicks.

Snapchat said it increased its proactive detection of drug sales by 390% in the past year, increasing them by 50% in the last quarter alone. It added that when its systems detect drug dealing activity, the account is promptly banned and the creator blocked from creating new accounts on Snapchat.

The company said it has increased collaborations with law enforcement and improved response times to law enforcement inquiries by 85% over the past year.

In its blog post, Snapchat said it is working with experts to continually update the list of slang and drug-related terms blocked from search results on Snapchat.

Other platforms should also take measures to put a stop to the massive rise in online drug dealing, said Christine Elgersma, a senior editor at children’s safety non-profit Common Sense Media.

“This is not just a Snapchat problem,” she said.

Indeed, Instagram executive Adam Mosseri faced questions about the issue in a 2021 congressional hearing.

“Why are children’s accounts even allowed to search for drug content to begin with, much less allowed to do so in a way that leads them to a drug dealer in two clicks?” asked the Republican senator Mike Lee of Utah.

“Accounts selling drugs or any other regulated goods are not allowed on the platform,” said Mosseri. Instagram has previously said it uses technology to proactively take down a huge number of drug-related posts.

Parents of children who died of fentanyl overdoses previously shared with the Guardian screenshots of Snapchat accounts selling pills. One woman, Perla Mendoza, said her 20-year-old son died in September 2020 after buying fake Xanax.

“It was one deadly pill that was strong enough to kill four adults,” said Mendoza, who hopes that other parents will get a chance to warn their children before it’s too late. “I feel like a lot of parents are like: ‘My kids aren’t into that.’ Well, neither was mine,” she said. “But that’s what kids are getting.”


Related Articles

Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
If a country is denied the right to independence by another, it is not in a union. It is in a dictatorship.
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
British PM Rishi Sunak pledges further action on strikes to 'protect lives'