Snap Details Efforts to Keep Fentanyl Sales Off Snapchat

The company strengthened its proactive detection capabilities to remove drug dealers from its platform

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Snap Inc. shared an update on the steps it is taking to prevent the sale of illegal drugs laced with fentanyl via the Snapchat platform.

The company wrote in a blog post, “Drugs laced with fentanyl have contributed to an alarming increase in overdose deaths in the U.S.in recent years. Fentanyl is a potent opioid, deadly in quantities as small as one grain of sand. Drug dealers often use fentanyl to make counterfeit prescription pills, like Vicodin or Xanax, which when ingested can lead to death.”

Snap added “We have heard devastating stories from families impacted by this crisis, including cases where fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills were purchased from drug dealers on Snapchat. We are determined to remove illegal drug sales from our platform, and we have been investing in proactive detection and collaboration with law enforcement to hold drug dealers accountable for the harm they are causing our community.”

The company said it has made significant investments in its law enforcement operations over the past year, improving response times by 85% year over year and usually responding within 30 minutes to emergency disclosure requests.

Snap also bolstered its proactive detection capabilities to remove drug dealers from its platform before connections are made, saying that its enforcement rates were up 112% during the first half of 2021, while proactive detection soared by 260% during the same period. The company added that almost two-thirds of drug-related content is detected proactively by its artificial intelligence systems, with the balance reported by the Snapchat community and enforced by its team.

The in-application reporting tools on Snapchat were also improved to make it easier and faster for people to report drug-related content.

In an effort to educate Snapchatters about the dangers of fentanyl, the company commissioned research from Morning Consult, which determined that teenagers are suffering from high levels of stress and anxiety, and they are experimenting with the use of prescription drugs without a prescription as a coping strategy.

The research also found that many people don’t know enough about fentanyl to assess the danger, or believe fentanyl is less dangerous than heroin or cocaine.

Snap teamed up with expert organizations including Shatterproof, Song for Charlie and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration on in-app education portal Heads Up, and additional resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be added in the coming weeks.

Snapchatters searching for drug-related keyword will see relevant educational content via the Heads Up portal.

A video advertising campaign Snap developed with Song for Charlie has already tallied more than 260 million views on Snapchat, and the platform is rolling out a new national filter to raise awareness of the dangers of fentanyl and counterfeit pills and direct users to Heads Up, as well as a new episode of Snap Original series Good Luck America dedicated to the topic.

Snap concluded, “We hope that our ongoing operational improvements and educational efforts will help to keep our community safe from the devastating impacts of the fentanyl crisis. We are heartbroken that drugs have taken the lives of people in our community. We deeply appreciate the generosity and kindness of families who have come forward to share their stories, collaborate and hold us accountable for making progress. We will work tirelessly to do better and do more to keep our community safe.”