Facebook, Google and Twitter Formed Tech Together to Fight the Opioid Crisis

The coalition will be led by the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies

Tech Together to Fight the Opioid Crisis is meeting Tuesday in Washington, D.C., for the first time DNY59/iStock

Facebook, Google and Twitter are working together to help battle opioid addiction.

The three tech giants are teaming up in a new coalition, Tech Together to Fight the Opioid Crisis, which will be led by the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies. The goal is to share best practices and collaborate on ways to address opioid addiction.

Facebook vice president of U.S. public policy Kevin Martin said in a Newsroom post that Tech Together to Fight the Opioid Crisis is meeting Tuesday in Washington, D.C., for the first time, where it will be joined by “experts and organizations working on prevention, treatment and recovery to discuss steps we’re taking to combat this epidemic.”

The social network will also share updates on its latest efforts to enforce its policies that prohibit drug sales, including proactively detecting content of this type, as well as its work with partners.

Martin said Facebook currently works with local and national organizations including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Facing Addiction and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

The social network is also working with the Computer Forensic Research Lab at the University of Alabama in Birmingham to learn more about the ways bad actors hide their activities, such as new street names for drugs, and Martin said UAB helps Facebook’s community operations team flag content that may violate its policies.

People who search for information about opioids on Facebook and Instagram are directed to SAMSHA’s National Helpline Information Page and other resources with information on free and confidential treatment and education.

Martin wrote, “We’ve also begun to roll out proactive detection on Facebook and Instagram to take down more content that violates our policies before people may see or report it. Our technology is able to detect content that includes images of drugs and depicts the intent to sell with information such as price, phone numbers or usernames for other social media accounts. By catching more posts automatically, this technology allows our team to use their expertise instead to investigate accounts, pages, groups and hashtags, as well as to work with experts to spot the next trends.”

He also pointed out that when Facebook teamed up with Facing Addition on its launch of the Voices Project campaign, the nonprofit added more than 15,000 new volunteers across all 50 states and online donations skyrocketed by more than 30 times over the course of 2017.

Martin concluded, “We will continue investing in technology to keep illicit drug sales off our platforms, to raise awareness and increase education and to connect people with help and resources. Facebook services allow friends, families and support networks to help one another through challenging times, making it easier for people who are struggling with addiction or helping loved ones in this battle get the resources they need. We look forward to our new industry alliance and finding ways to increase our impact through collaboration and supporting the important work of our partners.”

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.