20 Sep 2022 | Amy Neville

Press Release: Best Practices to Rid Social Media of Drug Trafficking

Summary: On Tuesday Sep 27th, 2002, the Commission to Develop Best Practices for Social Media to Eliminate Drug Trafficking, will release a report that sets out guidelines for social media companies to remove drug traffickers from their platforms, support drug-related investigations, and disclose the results. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 15, 2022) – On Tuesday Sep 27th, 2002, the Commission to Develop Best Practices for Social Media to Eliminate Drug Trafficking, will release a report that sets out guidelines for social media companies to remove drug traffickers from their platforms, support drug-related investigations, and disclose the results. 

The report, entitled Best Practices to Rid Social Media of Drug Trafficking, is a response to social media companies' failure to control drug dealers who are causing a rising tide of deaths. When Commission Co-chair Amy Neville lost her son Alex to a pill sourced on Snapchat, she was dismayed to learn that her experience wasn’t unique: “Social media drug dealers had sold the same kinds of pills that killed my son previously. It happened to more than 70 families across the US in over twenty different states.” 

Representatives at Snap, Inc. told Neville and other bereaved parents that they didn’t have the resources to respond promptly to law enforcement requests. Transparency reports show that Snap fails to answer between 20 and 25 percent of U.S. law enforcement requests. For Meta’s social media properties, Facebook and Instagram, that number is 12 percent. Yet, as Commission chair and retired police sergeant Steve Filson points out, responding to court-ordered requests is a legal requirement: “No other business routinely flouts court orders for information like this. Investigators need this information quickly to stop more harm. These delays can be measured in lives lost.”

Snap and other social media platforms have announced changes to make their sites safer for minors, but new deaths related to social media drug sales keep happening. Two recent, unrelated cases involved 15-year-olds who died in Minnesota and California last spring.

The Commission, a group of family advocates, public health experts and law enforcement officers, convened with the goal of developing clear recommendations to save lives. They collected input from 15 public safety experts, law enforcement officers, regulators, and researchers. The paper recommends clear policies around advertising or selling illicit drugs, controlled substances, and prescription medicines; robust, well-staffed programs and improved user reporting functions to identify and remove drug dealers; better support of law enforcement investigations, including the preservation of drug trafficking content; and third-party audits to access these functions and the transparency reports that document them. 

For more information and to download a full copy of Best Practices to Rid Social Media of Drug Trafficking on Sep. 27th, go to  https://stopthevoid.org/social-media-report The launch event is Tuesday Sep 27th, 2022 at 10am Eastern time. Register to attend here: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_6M-MnPykRKyFb3kweoiaMQ

Contact:

Amy Neville, President, Alexander Neville Foundation