Families of Fentanyl Overdose Victims Take on Snapchat: A Battle for Accountability

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The families of more than 60 young people who died of fentanyl overdoses have filed a lawsuit against Snapchat's parent company, Snap, alleging that the social media app's algorithm helped connect their children with drug dealers. This blog post will discuss the families' claims, Snapchat's response, and the potential implications of this case for social media platforms moving forward.

Filed in October in Los Angeles and updated in April, the lawsuit accuses Snap of prioritizing profit over recognizing that their app had become an "open-air drug market." The families argue that Snapchat has become the go-to platform for distributing drugs to children, teens, and young adults, contributing to a significant number of fentanyl poisoning deaths among U.S. teens compared to other social media apps.

The suit points to Snapchat's key feature, where messages between users are automatically deleted, as a design that drug dealers exploit. According to the families, this feature is marketed for those engaging in criminal activities they wish to keep concealed. They also claim that Snap actively "frustrates law enforcement's efforts" to prosecute suspects by notifying drug dealers of subpoenas or legal requests and taking months to respond to requests for account information.

Sixty-five families are suing Snapchat after their young loved ones died of fentanyl overdoses from drug dealers they allegedly met on the social media app.AP

Snap has vehemently denied the allegations in the lawsuit, stating that it is "riddled with false claims about how the Snapchat app works" and ignores the company's efforts to combat drug activity on its platform. In October, Snap launched an informational campaign on the dangers of fentanyl and reached approximately 375 million users in 2020. The company also highlights its reach among 13 to 24-year-olds in 20 countries in North America, stating that Snapchat reaches 90% of this demographic.


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