The United States Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation both said on Wednesday that they were looking into Snapchat, a social media app run by Snap Inc. in Santa Monica, because it could be used to sell drugs.
A report from Bloomberg says that the investigation focuses on cases involving fentanyl. Attorneys plan to talk to the parents of children who died from overdoses while investigators try to get into the victims’ social media accounts to find out who supplied the drugs.
Amy Neville, a local mother, went to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday hoping that her investigation and plea to government officials would help make a difference. Her 14-year-old son Alexander died after taking a pill laced with a very dangerous synthetic opioid.
Neville says that she and her husband started to notice that Alexander was changing, so they asked if he had started trying drugs. After briefly denying what they said, he told the truth.
Neville talked about a talk she had with her son and said, “I wanted to try oxy.” “A dealer on Snapchat gave me some. I don’t know why, but I can’t stop thinking about it.”
Alexander took the pill that would kill him that very same night.
Neville has been on a personal mission since June 2020 to ensure that no other parent has to go through what she has. She started by bringing attention to the fact that fentanyl is sold through Snapchat.
Wednesday, she talked at a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting. The meeting was about how the popular app has affected the crisis. One of the biggest problems, especially for parents who want to keep an eye on their kids’ online lives, is that Snapchat messages and photos disappear after you look at them. This makes it a great place for drug dealers who want to stay out of sight.
Neville said, “We’ve reached a point where these kids are telling me that these dealers are grooming them like sexual predators.” “They make friends with them and use the fact that they are weak against them.”
Bloomberg cited sources who said that subpoenaed Snapchat records show that teenagers have used the app to contact drug dealers and tell them they want to buy prescription pills. Instead, they were either mixed with fentanyl or were just straight fentanyl.
The company says it has made major operational changes to find and get rid of drug dealers from the platform. It also says it works closely with law enforcement and other groups to raise awareness about drug problems like fentanyl and fake pills.
Representatives from Snapchat said in a statement on Wednesday that the company is “committed to doing our part to fight the national fentanyl poisoning crisis,” which includes using cutting-edge technology to help us find and shut down drug dealers’ accounts.
The representative said, “We block search results for terms related to drugs and send Snapchat users to resources from experts about the dangers of fentanyl.” “We are always making it easier for law enforcement to investigate dealers and bring them to justice. We also work closely with experts to share patterns of dealers’ activities across platforms so that illegal behavior can be found and stopped more quickly. We will keep doing everything we can to stop this epidemic, including working with other tech companies, public health agencies, law enforcement, families, and nonprofits.”
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