Summary: Our open letter to Evan Spiegel of SnapChat
Aliso Viejo, CA (September 7, 2021) — A group of seven parents whose children died from counterfeit pills sold by drug dealers on Snapchat publicly demanded that the social media giant measure and report their response to law enforcement and the removal of drug dealers from the platform.
In the letter signed by eight families, parents specifically wanted Snapchat to measure and report to the public its response time to valid law enforcement requests. “Nobody is asking them to fulfill requests that don’t go through proper legal channels,” said Amy Neville, mother of murdered 14-year-old Alex Neville, “but days can mean more deaths if drug dealers who have deadly fake pills aren’t identified when law enforcement requests it. We need to know that they are processing these with the urgency that lives are at stake.”
Amy Neville and other families participated in a meeting where Snapchat stated that they weren’t adequately staffed to respond to law enforcement requests quickly.
The letter also demands that Snapchat measure their program to find and remove drug dealers from the platform and refer these individuals to law enforcement proactively. “If Snapchat discovers evidence that someone is dealing drugs on its platform, it must bring law enforcement in.” said Jaime Puerta, father of murdered sixteen-year-old Daniel Puerta. “If they just remove their account quietly and they keep dealing and someone dies, Snapchat is morally responsible for that death.”
The letter asks that Snapchat convene a nine-member oversight committee of outside experts in law enforcement, public health and safety, and parents whose children have been harmed to review policies, procedures, and enforcement of Snapchat’s efforts to clean up its platform.
OUR LETTER TO EVAN SPIEGEL AT SNAP INC
Evan Spiegel, CEO
Michael O’Sullivan, General Counsel
2772 Donald Douglas Loop N
Santa Monica, CA 90405
September 7, 2021
We, the undersigned, lost our children to opioids sold by dealers on Snapchat — a platform that caters to users too young to understand the opioid crisis or the risks of counterfeit pills. All social media platforms have a moral responsibility to the young people that use them and we believe they must take that responsibility seriously.
We ask that you take the following steps to publicly address the danger of criminal behavior on your platform.
Responsiveness to law enforcement
We write today because some of the investigations into our own children’s deaths have encountered resistance to law enforcement requests for information because, as Snapchat representatives told us, they are not adequately resourced to be responsive enough.
Proactive measures to stop drug trafficking
All social media platforms should have proactive programs that include automated software to search for evidence of drug dealing, human review, and referral to law enforcement when such activity is found.
We have heard rumors that Snapchat may use such technology, but we seek a formal declaration of its use and commitment to law enforcement referrals. Without the power of law enforcement referrals, criminals can simply continue their activities with new accounts on the service.
Screening of business profiles
Social media companies must carefully scrutinize accounts that advertise and perform other business functions on their platforms to avoid a repeat of the problems Google experienced in 2011. Snapchat should ensure that only NABP-approved pharmacies are permitted to promote pharmaceutical products to U.S. residents. Violators should be referred to the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigation.
External transparency committee to evaluate Snapchat’s efforts
Snapchat drug dealers are preying on young people across the country, and public sources have already linked these sellers to deaths in fifteen states. Snapchat needs oversight and transparency to reassure parents that it is accountable to protect our children on the platform.
We call on Snapchat to establish a transparency committee of nine individuals, three drawn from federal and state narcotics law enforcement, three from parents who have lost children to Snapchat drug dealers, and three with an expertise in the area of public health. The committee would receive redacted quarterly reports that show:
- The date Snapchat received each law enforcement request.
- The date Shapchat fulfilled that request. (If multiple fulfilments were required, list the date of each of those and the date of the final fulfillment.)
- The reason any specific request was not fulfilled.
- The number of criminal referrals sent to law enforcement and the agencies the referrals were sent to.
- The number of business accounts terminated or suspended for drug-trafficking criminal behavior.
It is assumed that information about each law enforcement request will be sufficiently redacted to protect the integrity of active investigations.
Our families have suffered a great deal of pain as a result of drug dealers on Snapchat, and our children have died. Snapchat’s verbal commitments, genuine good will, and public service messaging efforts are welcome, but the potential for more harm screams for transparency and oversight. We call upon Snapchat to demonstrate that they are doing the work to protect the young users of their platform.
Mother of Alexander Neville, 14
Murdered by a fentanyl-based fake oxycodone sold by Snapchat drug dealer, 2020
Father of Daniel Joseph Puerta-Johnson, 16
Murdered by counterfeit blue M30 oxycodone pill sold by Snapchat drug dealer, 2020
Mother of Adrian De Jesus, 19
Murdered by a fentanyl-based counterfeit oxycodone sold by Snapchat drug dealer in 2020
Mother of Alexandra Capelouto, 20
Murdered by counterfeit blue M30 oxycodone pill sold by Snapchat drug dealer, 2019
Bridgette L. Norring
Mother of Devin Joseph Norring , 19
Murdered by a counterfeit Percocet sold by Snapchat drug dealer, 2020
Mother of Zachariah Plunk, 17
Murdered by a Fentanyl based counterfeit Percocet M30, pill sold by a Snapchat drug dealer, 8/15/2020
Mother to Dylan Kai Sarantos, 18
Poisoned and Killed with a fentanyl based counterfeit ecstasy pill sold by a drug dealer on Snapchat, 2020.