In the middle of the US fentanyl overdose death crisisand which has claimed the lives of several minors who acquired the opioid on social networks, Snapchat announced measures to prevent drug traffickers from offering their products to teenagers who use the app.
Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, said the most far-reaching measure will be to disable the Quick Add feature, which allowed a person to add another user based on a recommendation algorithm and which, according to journalistic investigations, made it easier for drug traffickers to contact minors. of age to sell them fentanyl pills.
Now, Snap says that the function It will only be available to users who have “a certain number of mutual friends” with the user they wish to contact, and by default, it will be disabled for users under the age of 17.
Jacqueline Beauchere, Snap’s director of security, stressed that “Snapchat is not ideal for meeting new people” and that rather “it was designed to communicate with people you already know, with your friends in the real world.”
Nevertheless, an investigation published by NBC News revealed that at least eight young people and adolescents died of fentanyl overdose when acquiring pills of the synthetic opioid through drug traffickers who contacted them on Snapchat.
Samuel Chapman, father of a 16-year-old boy who died of a fentanyl overdose, called for stronger mechanisms, saying that “all these measures are easy for drug traffickers and children to circumvent.”
“What I see is Snapchat advertising one measure after another, but at the end of the day you can still buy drugs online in a few seconds,” he said.
Despite the criticism, Snap defends that the platform has tools that allow it to proactively find 88 percent of the content related to the sale of drugs. The rest, he said, is denounced by users of the social network.