Snapchat Adds to Its Arsenal for Its War on Drugs

The platform boosted its proactive detection rates for related content by 390% over the past year

Mark your calendar for Mediaweek, October 29-30 in New York City. We’ll unpack the biggest shifts shaping the future of media—from tv to retail media to tech—and how marketers can prep to stay ahead. Register with early-bird rates before sale ends!

Snapchat enlisted new resources in its battle against drug-related content on its platform and provided an update on its progress in proactively detecting such content.

New in-application resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the dangers of fentanyl are being added to Snapchat’s Heads Up portal, along with fare from two new partners: nonprofit Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, which is committed to creating safe, healthy and drug-free communities; and fellow nonprofit Truth Initiative, which focuses on getting young people to reject smoking, vaping and nicotine.

The next episode of Good Luck America on Snapchat’s Discover content platform will focus on fentanyl.

Snap Inc. wrote in a blog post Tuesday, “Late last year, the CDC announced that more than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. over a 12-month period, with fentanyl being a major driver of this spike. This staggering data hits home. We recognize the horrible human toll that the opioid epidemic is taking across the county, and the impact of fentanyl and adulterated drugs (often masked as counterfeit prescription drugs) is having on young people and their families in particular. We also know that drug dealers are constantly searching for ways to exploit messaging and social media apps, including trying to find new ways to abuse Snapchat and our community, to conduct their illegal and deadly commerce.”

Snap said that it boosted its proactive detection rates for drug-related content by 390% over the past year and by 50% since its last update on the subject, last October.

The company added that 88% of drug-related content it uncovers is proactively detected by its machine learning and artificial intelligence technology, with the remainder reported by the Snapchat community, and when drug dealing activity is discovered, the account is banned and technology is used to prevent the person from establishing new accounts on the platform.

In some cases, Snap proactively refers those accounts to law enforcement for investigation. The company has grown its law enforcement operations team by 74%, leading to an 85% improvement in response times to law enforcement inquiries over the past year.

The company’s efforts have resulted in a drop in drug-related reports from Snapchatters specifically related to sales, to 16% as of this month from 23% last September.

Snap said it continues to work with experts to regularly update the list of slang and drug-related terms it blocks from being visible on the app.

The company reiterated that users cannot see each other’s friend lists, public profiles are not allowed for Snapchatters under 18 and messages cannot be received from users who are not friends, adding that a new safeguard for friend suggestion feature Quick Add requires users under 18 to have a certain number of friends in common with a person before they are discoverable.

Snap wrote in its blog post, “In the coming months, we will be sharing more details about the new parental tools we are developing, with the goal of giving parents more insight into who their teens are talking to on Snapchat, while still respecting their privacy. And we will continue to build on this critical work, with additional partnerships and operational improvements underway.”