Tuesday 29th November 2022

Members of Congress call for social media giants to combat illicit drug sales

S. Brett Guthrie (KY-02) speaks at a roundtable event held at the Barren Co. Board of Education on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.
(BRENNAN CRAIN/WCLU NEWS)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Select members of Congress – including Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-02) – have sent letters to TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and the U.S. Department of Justice to demand work be done to combat illicit drug sales, including fentanyl, on these platforms.

The letters, released by Guthrie’s office, were directed to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

“We write with significant concerns regarding the use of TikTok by drug dealers to sell illicit and deadly substances, especially to children and minors. We have read numerous reports and heard personal stories from parents who have tragically lost their children to fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances from pills purchased from drug dealers on TikTok,” the letter said. “The loss of these young lives shows not enough is being done to crack down on this illegal activity and prevent criminals from exploiting your platform to sell this deadly poison.”

In 2021, nearly 108,000 people died of drug overdoses – 71,000 of which were from fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances, according to the letter. Officials seized more than 10,000 pounds of illicit fentanyl at the southern border, which is enough to kill every American seven times over, they said.

“Law enforcement in communities across the country are seizing record amounts of illicit fentanyl pills, including a case earlier this summer where two Washington State men were arrested in California with 1 million pills containing fentanyl.”

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), fake pills are often manufactured to resemble “real prescription opioid medications such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and alprazolam (Xanax®); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall®).”

“A consistent theme of this crisis is the purchasing of pills believed to be something else by teenagers and youth using TikTok’s platform. TikTok must do more to combat the use of its platform for illegal activity, especially drug dealers peddling this dangerous poison.”

Aside from Guthrie, Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05); Bob Latta (OH-05); Gus Bilirakis (FL-12); and Morgan Griffith (VA-09) signed the letters.

Click HERE to read the full letter to TikTok; click HERE to read the full letter to Snapchat; click HERE to read the full letter to Instagram; click HERE to read the full letter to the U.S. Department of Justice.

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