Snapchat Fights Drug Dealing With Automated Drug Detection System On App 

Snapchat announced that they will be making a greater effort to combat drug dealing on the platform. The announcement is partially due to the increased amount of drug-related deaths among US high school and college-aged students. 

Snapchat announced that they have adopted improved automated drug detection systems as well as enhancing partnerships with law enforcement. The app will also now have a portal that can be used for educating users on the dangers of drugs. 

“Our position on this has always been clear: we have absolutely zero tolerance for drug dealing on Snapchat. We have a unique opportunity to use our voice, technology and resources to help address this scourge, which threatens the lives of our community members.”

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The increased security efforts come after the CDC warned of a major spike of drug overdoses in 2021, mainly driven by fentanyl; a cheap synthetic opioid that’s 100 times more potent than heroin, and is often mixed with counterfeit pills that young people buy through social media. 

In 2020 fentanyl fatalities rose by 32% when compared to 2019; more than 93,000 deaths. Individuals aged 24 or younger have seen a 50% increase in drug deaths as well.

“Every drug you try now is a game of Russian roulette,” Shabbir Safdar, director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines, a non-profit fighting pharmaceutical counterfeits, said

A recent study from the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) found that pills labeled as Oxycontin, Percocet, Xanax or Adderall are readily available on platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and Craigslist. 

Within the past year Snapchat claims it has increased its proactive detection of drug sales by 390%; increasing security efforts by 50% within the last quarter alone. When Snapchat’s systems detect drug dealing activity on the app the account is automatically banned and the creator is blocked from creating new accounts on the platform. 

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The company has also increased their partnerships with law enforcement and improved on response times to law enforcement inquiries by 85% within the past year. 

Snapchat said it is “working with experts to continually update the list of slang and drug-related terms blocked from search results on Snapchat. Other platforms should also take measures to put a stop to the massive rise in online drug dealing. This is not just a Snapchat problem,” said Christine Elgersma, a senior editor at children’s safety non-profit Common Sense Media.

At a 2021 congressional hearing, Instagram executive Adam Mosseri had to answer questions regarding drug dealing on social media.

“Why are children’s accounts even allowed to search for drug content to begin with, much less allowed to do so in a way that leads them to a drug dealer in two clicks?” asked the Republican senator Mike Lee of Utah.

“Accounts selling drugs or any other regulated goods are not allowed on the platform. The app uses technology to proactively take down a huge number of drug-related posts, Mosseri responded.


U.S. and China Joint Investigation Leads To Arrests In Massive Fentanyl Trafficking Ring

China and the United States clearly never see eye to eye. However, this week, the two countries worked together to make a big arrest involving a massive fentanyl smuggling ring between America and China. This Thursday, Chinese authorities sentenced one man to death and imprisoned eight others for trafficking fentanyl into the United States (NBC). Initially, the joint effort was in response to President Donald Trump’s public criticism and call to action directed at China to adopt stricter policies regarding drug trafficking, especially when it comes to fentanyl which is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the U.S. every year. 

The case started with an arrest in New Orleans in August 2017 that revealed information about a woman in China, known as ‘Diana’, who sold narcotics online and shipped orders to the U.S. That information was passed on by American officials to drug investigators in China, who spent months uncovering a sprawling network of fentanyl labs, producers and dealers,” according to Janis Frayer for NBC

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Police stand guard outside the Xingtai Intermediate People’s court

When a major wire transfer was made to “Diana” this week, authorities had all the information they needed to make a move. The raids made in response to the wire transfer lead to the nine arrests, and brought in over 26 pounds of fentanyl, along with other opioids and records that helped authorities track areas in the United States that the drugs were being trafficked to. More than 50 U.S. residents names and addresses were seized from the “Diana Organization’s” records which lead to three major arrests in the U.S., and 25 new cases to be opened here in America (NBC). 

Tensions between China and the United States have been especially on the rise within the past few months as we are currently in the midst of a massive trade war with the country. Because of this, this collaborative effort between both countries authoritative forces is being eagerly showcased in the media, and rightfully so. America has often criticized China on their laid back approach to drug trafficking and has labeled them as “complacent” so when these arrests were made China made sure that Americans knew how big of a deal it was. 

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Yu Haibin (C), deputy director of China National Narcotics Control Commission (ONNCC), speaks during a briefing in Xingtai

So much so that during the court proceedings this week, China invited groups of journalists to come and cover the hearings to ensure that the news would spread quickly and efficiently as the charges were made. Journalists were also invited to attend a news conference covering the case both before and after the hearings, China provided police escorts for all the journalists to and from the conference and court to show that they were serious and organized about this accomplishment. The case was being presented at a court in Xingtai, which is about 220 miles from Beijing. 

According to NBC’s coverage of the event, the nine defendants were made up of five men and four women, all of which were seated in the courtroom during the entire proceedings, but none were allowed to speak. There were three presiding judges, one of which was responsible for reading out all the details of the case, the charges that were being made for each individual, and what their sentences would be. The leader of the entire smuggling ring was sentenced to death after he serves a two year sentence, his charge was “leading a conspiracy to defy Chinese laws to manufacture and smuggle the drug of fentanyl to the United States.”

“Their measures are very covert, our investigators lack chemistry expertise … it’s definitely hard to identify and verify this type of substance,” Liu Zhiyong, the deputy chief of Xingtai Public Security Bureau told NBC News.

Due to the success of this collaborative effort, there are now two more ongoing joint fentanyl investigations occurring between the United States and Chinese authorities. This effort could help bring down some of the biggest international drug trafficking rings.