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Home » THE ONLINE BATTLEGROUND/SOCIAL MEDIA AND ITS RISK TO OUR COMMUNITIES

THE ONLINE BATTLEGROUND/SOCIAL MEDIA AND ITS RISK TO OUR COMMUNITIES

Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and on and on and on…simply a few of the social media sites that seem to consume the lives of our society virtually each and every minute of the day.  What many innocently believe to be convenient and entertaining methods to communicate, stay in touch, and see what’s going on in the world, is, in reality, an online wolf in sheep’s clothing.  VOID has focused its education/awareness efforts on these activities, in particular, the distribution of illicit drugs through these online platforms.  Frighteningly, drugs are but one of the many nefarious criminal activities you can discover in the dark world of the internet through social media resources.  Continued concerns surrounding cyberbullying, human trafficking, disinformation, child sexual abuse material, and a host of other issues continue to exist and are accessible at the fingertips of our most vulnerable segment of society!  Our kids.

Why is this permitted to occur, seemingly unabated?  Well, we can place that burden on Section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act, which provides immunity from liability for information published on these sites by third-party users.  In other words, social media platforms are not responsible, under current law, for the information posted/published on their sites.  That’s correct! They cannot be held civilly liable for the distribution of fake pills, and other illicit drugs containing fentanyl.  Efforts to amend this legislation have occurred over the past in an effort to correct this, but nothing of substance has advanced.  The “Kids Online Safety Act” (KOSA) was moving through the legislature just prior to the conclusion of the 117th Congress but again failed to advance.  

VOID was also privileged to participate this past year with industry experts, in developing a “Best Practices to Rid Social Media of Drug Trafficking” document.  This document outlined a series of reasonable and responsible steps to take in creating a safer online environment.  

  1. Establish strong, specific policies around advertising or selling illicit drugs, controlled substances, and prescription medicines.
  2. Practice proactive monitoring and remove drug dealers from the platform.
  3. Manage data to support potential law enforcement investigations.
  4. Promptly comply with and clearly report on court-authorized requests for information.
  5. Strengthen users’ ability to report drug content.
  6. Implement third-party programming interfaces that allow independent parental control software.
  7. Establish third-party assessment of social media platforms’ transparency reports.

A copy of the document is available for review on the VOID website.

Read the information.  Understand Section 230(c) and the need for an effective law to be enacted.  Look at it this way; Social media platforms must be held to the same standard and “duty of care” we expect of any business in providing a safe environment for their customers to use.  Speak to your member of Congress and other elected officials.  Demand action is taken.  For once, set aside political posturing for our society’s safety.  Thanks to everyone.  Stay well!!

Jaime Puerta is a United States Marine Corps Veteran, and the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Puerta & Associates, Inc.; a small Interpreting business that specializes in furnishing Certified Interpreters to Attorneys, Doctors, and Courts working within the Workman’s Compensation field in the State of California. He resides in Santa Clarita, California, with his wife Claudia. Jaime is also the President of V.O.I.D., "Victims Of Illicit Drugs", a California 501C non-profit dedicated to educating parents and children about the dangers of illicit drug use, and also about the dangers that abound on social media platforms. Jaime also sits on the Advisory Board of A.C.C.O. "The Alliance To Counter Crime Online". Jaime became involved in the fight against Fentanyl when his only son Daniel passed away due to Fentanyl Poisoning on April 6, 2020.

Jaime is an avid Harley Davidson enthusiast and rides his motorcycles whenever time permits him to do so.

Steve Filson was raised in Huntington Beach and has been a resident of San Bernardino since 1976 when he relocated there after his service in the U.S. Air Force. He retired in 2009 after a 31-year career with the San Bernardino County Sheriff and San Bernardino Police Department. Steve is the owner of a private security company and is a staff member of the Public Safety Academy, a public charter school in San Bernardino.|

Most importantly, Steve is Jessica’s Dad. Jessica was his 29-year-old daughter killed in Redlands on January 22, 2022, along with her boyfriend, Nicholas, due to fentanyl poisoning. Steve lives in Highland, California, with his wife, Cheri, and their five-year-old granddaughter, Elara. He and other bereaved parents formed V.O.I.D., “Victims of Illicit Drugs,” as a California non-profit corporation and dedicate their efforts to education and awareness of this fentanyl scourge confronting our society.

Rocklin, CA resident Chris Didier lost his 17-year-old son, Zachary Didier, to fentanyl two days after Christmas in 2020. Zach was an Eagle Scout, soccer player, and beloved member of the community who had no history of drug use. Chris Didier has dedicated himself to raising awareness of the dangers of fentanyl, and has no doubt saved the lives of many students like Zach through his efforts. 

During his 22-year military career, Lt. Col. Didier flew the C-21 and F-15E. He currently flies the Boeing 787 for United Airlines.