Snapchat, the social media platform particularly popular with teens, has claimed that it is working to make it tougher for drug dealers to connect with children on its platform. The parent of one teen who overdosed on fentanyl-laced pills he bought from a dealer on Snapchat said in response: “What I find with Snap Inc. is that they publicize one Band-Aid after another, but at the end of the day, you can still go online and get drugs in seconds.”
NBC News reports that Snapchat, the disappearing-message app popular among teenagers, has promised that it is taking steps to crack down on drug dealing on the app. Snap Inc. claims that the company is working hard to make it even more difficult for users to find the accounts of minors below the age of 17.
An investigation by NBC News published in October found that Snapchat was linked to the sale of drugs and particularly to fentanyl-laced pills killing teenagers and young adults in more than a dozen states. Snap claimed that it has automated systems in place to detect illegal drugs and has hired more employees to handle requests from law enforcement. The company also created an online education portal focused on the dangers of fentanyl-laced drugs.
In a recent blog post, Snap said that in order to “protect 13 to 17-year-olds,” it has changed its friend recommendation feature, Quick Add. The feature will no longer suggest users add accounts belonging to minors unless they have “a certain number of friends in common with that person.”
The company hopes that this change will stop strangers from befriending teenagers they don’t know on Snapchat. Jacqueline Beauchere, Snap’s global head of platform safety, stated: “Snapchat isn’t ideal for finding new people. It was designed for communicating with people whom you already know, your real-life friends.”
However, many are not convinced that Snap is doing enough to curb the issue. Samuel Chapman, the father of a 16-year-old boy who overdosed last year on fentanyl-laced pills he bought from a dealer on Snapchat, stated: “All of these things are easy for drug dealers and for kids to get around.”
He added: “What I find with Snap Inc. is that they publicize one Band-Aid after another, but at the end of the day, you can still go online and get drugs in seconds.”
Chapman has called on Snap and other social media firms to work together to combat the issue of drug activity online.
Read more at NBC News here.