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Snapchat says it’s getting better at finding illegal drug dealers before users – TechCrunch




Snapchat has been increasingly criticized in recent years as opioid crises occur on social media and often have tragic consequences.

In October, an NBC study reported the story of a young man between the ages of 13 and 23 who died after purchasing fentanyl-containing tablets on Snapchat. That month, Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, worked to improve its ability to detect illegal drug sales on social networks and began directing users searching for drug-related content to the educational harm reduction portal.

Snapchat got a glimpse of Tuesday’s progress, noting that 88% of the drug-related content it found was actively identified by automated systems, and the remaining 12% was occupied by community reports. According to Snap, this number has increased by a third since the October update, indicating that much of this content was detected before it was identified by the user.

“Since this fall, we’ve seen another key indicator of progress, which is the decline in content reported in the community related to drug sales,” Snap wrote in a blog post. “In September, more than 23% of drug-related reports from Snapchatters contained content specifically related to sales. As a result of preventative detection work, it was up to 16% as of this month. Reduced. This shows a 31% reduction in drug-related reports. We will continue to strive to reduce this number as much as possible. “

According to the company, a new safeguard has recently been introduced to prevent users between the ages of 13 and 17 from appearing in the search results of Quick Add users unless they have a friend in common with the searcher. This precaution is intended to discourage minors from connecting with unknown users. In this case, it will prevent online drug transactions.

Snapchat is also a global non-profit organization working to add information about the dangers of fentanyl to the CDC’s “Heads Up” harm reduction portal and “prevent material misuse through community efforts.” We are affiliated with Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). .. “

The company works with experts to identify new search terms that sellers use to circumvent the rules for the sale of illegal substances. Snapchat calls the work of keeping the glossary of drug sales terms up-to-date with “continuous and ongoing efforts.”

Last month, the US Drug Enforcement issued a warning about the dangers of tablets purchased online that contain fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid that is much smaller than heroin. Fentanyl appears more and more in illegally purchased drugs, including those purchased online, and can be fatal to users who believed they were taking other substances.

In December, DEA administrator Anne Milgram called Snapchat and other social media apps “shelters.”[s] “For drug traffickers” in a December interview with CBS. “Drug traffickers use social media because they are accessible, so they have access to millions of Americans, are anonymous, and sell these fake pills that are different from what they say. You can, “said Milgram.

While social media platforms have hampered aggressive and aggressive investment in content moderation, online drug sales have taken hold. Companies have sealed some of the more obvious ways to find illegal drugs online (for example, a few years ago it was as easy as searching for #painpills on Instagram), but knowledgeable sellers , Adapt practices to avoid it when new rules are created.

The rise in fentanyl is an important factor in exacerbating the American opioid epidemic, and the prevalence of this substance in online sales presents unique challenges. At an October hearing on children’s online safety, Snap called the issue its “top priority,” but many lawmakers and families affected by online drug sales are social media companies. Are skeptical that they take their role seriously in the opioid crisis.




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