Snapchat is rolling out new educational tools and resources to prevent young users from purchasing counterfeit pills and illicit drugs through the platform. The company said Thursday that the goal of the new tools was to protect its users from the “devastating impacts of the fentanyl crisis.”
“We are committed to removing illegal drug sales from our platform, and we have invested in proactive detection and working with law enforcement to hold drug traffickers accountable for the damage they cause to our. community, ”Snapchat’s parent company Snap said in a statement. blog post. “While we still have work to do, for all types of law enforcement inquiries we receive, our response times have improved 85% year over year. “
The company claims to have improved its proactive detection capabilities to remove drug dealers from its platform before they are able to engage with users and cause harm. Snapchat notes that its application rates increased 112% in the first half of 2021, and that it increased proactive detection rates by 260%. It also claims that nearly two-thirds of drug-related content found on the platform is proactively detected by its artificial intelligence systems. It has also worked to improve its built-in reporting tools to make it easier for users to report drug-related content.
Additionally, when users search for drug-related keywords, they now see a new in-app education portal called “Attention”. The portal will display relevant educational content designed to prevent harm. Heads Up distributes content from reputable organizations such as Song for Charlie, Shatterproof, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Additional resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be added in the coming weeks.
The launch of the new tools comes as a recent NBC News report investigated the deaths of teens and young adults who allegedly used Snapchat to purchase pills that were found to contain fentanyl. The report alleged that drug dealers were using the social media platform to find buyers and Snapchat was not doing enough to prevent the damage.
“We have heard devastating stories from families affected by this crisis, including cases where counterfeit pills containing fentanyl were purchased from drug dealers on Snapchat. We are committed to removing illegal drug sales from our platform, ”the company said.
Social media platforms like Snapchat and Tiktok, which cater to young users, face increased pressure to crack down on the sale and promotion of illicit drugs as overdose deaths continue to skyrocket. Parent groups have argued that the digital giants are not doing enough to stop young users from harming these apps. Additionally, the US Drug Enforcement Administration issued a warning last week regarding the increase in the number of fake pills containing fentanyl.
The administration issued a public safety alert “warning the American public of the increasing availability of fake pills which are deadlier than ever, and which are easy to buy, widely available and often contain lethal doses of fentanyl.”
Snapchat said it was heartbroken that drugs had claimed the lives of people in its user community and that it would work to do better and keep its users safe.