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:
- Song For Charlie (SFC), a family-run, national nonprofit charity dedicated to raising awareness about counterfeit prescription pills, will promote a new online fentanyl information and resource hub for parents and families in California. This campaign was created with funding and support from the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). We’re partnering again with SFC to support the second annual Senate-designated and DEA-recognized Fentanyl Awareness Day, helping SFC expand their reach.
- The Ad Council is continuing Drop the F-Bomb, a parent-focused campaign emphasizing the prevalence and dangers of fentanyl on Fentanyl Awareness Day. This campaign mobilizes and equips parents and caregivers to begin candid discussions with their families about the drug. We led in the creative development of this campaign, which provided parents with resources like Fentanyl 101 facts and guides on how parents can educate their families on the dangers of fentanyl. According to the Ad Council, the campaign reached over 22 million people on our platforms last year.
- Mobilize Recovery, an organization that brings local leaders together to organize community engagement for people in recovery, family members, and recovery allies, will host a series of regional events leading up to a Meta co-hosted National conference in Washington, DC. The regional events will offer an opportunity to listen to community leaders who are on the front lines of our national overdose crisis, providing recovery support services, prevention education in schools and transitional housing to those in early recovery. We will co-host the first regional event in Louisville, Kentucky on May 19th.
- The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) for the sixth straight time will support the efforts of the DEA Prescription Drug Takeback Day by connecting people with drop-off locations.
- Partnership to End Addiction, a leading nonprofit working to transform how the nation addresses addiction, developed and launched the Stop Opioid Silence (SOS) campaign to help break down the stigma of addiction that so often prevents people from getting the help that they need. According to Partnership to End Addiction, the campaign featured nearly 160 Members of Congress, senior administration officials from SAMHSA, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Department of Labor, and reached over 77 million people to help destigmatize addiction and connect people with recovery resources.
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.