Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram face pressure to stop illegal drug sales as overdose deaths soar. - WaPo
How big is the crisis of illegal drugs being marketed on social media? Who dies? Who profits? How many drug overdoses are there? Which states have the most deaths? What can you do to help stop corporations profiting from Fentanyl ads?
Stop Fentanyl ads on social media
Corporate greed. Public deaths.
This StoryMap explains the scope of the problem, how ads for illegal drugs target teenagers on Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube and Tik Tok; and how Senator Warner's Safe Tech Act proposes to curb the menace of corporate profiting from a public health crisis.
- A map of the number of drug over does deaths was created with data from the Centers For Disease Control (CDC)
- Graphs of the surge in Fentanyl deaths was added from National Institute on Drug Abuse and Drug Abuse Statistics
- Actions to hold social media accountable from Digital Citizens Alliance and Coalition For A Safer Web
- Links to a webinar organized by Ethnic Media Services with Sam Quinones author of The Least of Us about the epidemic
- Salaries of the Facebook and Google CEOs from Yahoo Finance
- Details on the Safe Tech Act and how curbs Section 230 to hold bad actors accountable for the harm they cause
- How to call your Senator to demand they support the Safe Tech Act
Fentanyl overdose deaths surge
"More than 93,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States last year, a surge of nearly 30% from the year before.. Illegal drug sales have been a scourge on Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok and other social media apps. DEA Administrator Anne Milgram specifically called out Snapchat and TikTok, two apps that are popular with teenagers and young adults, for not doing more to combat sales." - Washington Post
Facebook amplifies the drug dealers' messages
"Searches on Instagram, owned by Facebook, for hashtags of the names of drugs — such as #oxy, #percocet, #painkillers, #painpills, #oxycontin, #adderall and #painrelief — revealed thousands of posts by a mash-up of people grappling with addiction, those bragging about their partygoing lifestyle and enticements from drug dealers. Particularly troubling was the fact that as researchers followed more drug dealers, Instagram’s algorithms didn’t stop it. Rather, the platform amplified the problem – pushing more drug sellers toward the researcher’s account. - Washington Post
Senator Warner, a former technology entrepreneur and the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has stated that “Section 230 has provided a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card to the largest platform companies even as their sites are used by scam artists, harassers, and violent extremists to cause damage and injury.”
The core components of the SAFE TECH Act would fundamentally alter the language of Section 230 to no longer offer protection in situations where payments are involved, something previously protected. Also, the new bill would open internet companies to an increased level of civil liability in some cases. The bill would provide victims of the right to file lawsuits against those companies rather than absolutely blocking those kinds of suits. - Journal of High Technology Law
Take Away: Demand your Senator support the Safe Tech Act. It's time to hold tech firms who put profits over deaths accountable.
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