Fentanyl use is a potentially lethal issue that requires a whole-of-society approach. According to the United States’ Drug Enforcement Agency, drug cartels are exploring every way possible to distribute this relatively new drug in the United States; whether it be open-air drug markets, one-to-one drug deals, or online marketing, this is among today’s most dangerous and urgent issues. Since 1999, drug overdoses have killed approximately 1 million Americans. Synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 — tragically taking more lives than heart disease, cancer, homicide, suicide, or accidents.
Awareness and education are two ways to combat the dangers of drug misuse, and on this Fentanyl Awareness Day, we wanted to highlight some of the work that we and our partners are doing to address this public health crisis and to help prevent potential harm.
Thanks to expert feedback, we know how vital it is to give people – especially anyone personally impacted by this issue — platforms where they can feel safe to discuss the dangers of drugs and the ways to overcome addiction. That’s why we allow people to talk about their recovery or that of a loved one to raise awareness, provide education, and connect to resources that can help.
For years, we’ve been working with expert organizations to help prevent and combat the misuse of drugs. We know that people mostly find drug content by searching for it. So when people search for drugs on Facebook and Instagram, we direct them to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline to help educate them about the risks.
We support several partners working in this space to help educate the public about the potential harm of misusing drugs, reduce stigma and provide resources related to recovery. Examples of recent partnerships include:
We’ve also been working to combat drug trafficking online. Considering this challenge is bigger than any single platform, we’re collaborating with other social media companies to tackle these issues. For example, we recently started a pilot with Snapchat to identify patterns and signs of illicit drug-related content and activity. This work strengthens our ability to find and remove illicit drugs if they come onto our platforms. As the program develops, we hope to engage additional companies to help protect people and combat this industry-wide issue.
We also recently updated our Community Standards to clarify our long-standing prohibition of the sale or purchase of dangerous non-medical drugs on our platforms. The definition of non-medical drugs now includes precursor chemicals, including those that could potentially help manufacture dangerous drugs like fentanyl.
We remove content related to drug sales and misuse, and take action against anyone attempting to organize illegal drug sales on our platforms. Furthermore, content that violates our policies, including dangerous individuals and organizations or the sale of drugs, remains subject to stronger consequences — including user account removals. We don’t allow criminal organizations to use Facebook and Instagram, and we remove these organizations from our platforms when we’re made aware of them. We will continue to take action against anyone, including cartels, who use our platforms in an attempt to organize the sale of illegal drugs.
We routinely respond to valid law enforcement requests for information and work closely with law enforcement and emergency responders to help people on our platforms stay safe. We also provide information to law enforcement that will help them respond to emergencies, including providing information where we see a risk of immediate harm. For more information on how we work with law enforcement, visit our Transparency Center.