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.