This month, the Social Media Victims Law Center filed its fifth lawsuit against Snap, Inc. alleging that a series of features on the popular social media app Snapchat enable the operation of a “Snapchat drug cartel” and therefore contributed to the deaths of nine minors and young adults in several states.
The lawsuit was filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court and is the company’s fifth lawsuit since January 2022 against Snap, Inc. has initiated.
“She [Snap, Inc.] should be held accountable for turning a blind eye to the hundreds of children who die [a] overdosed on fentanyl through illegal drugs obtained through their platform,” Matthew Bergman, the center’s founder, told Fox News.
The Center’s most recent wrongful death lawsuit represents parents from Florida, Colorado, California, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Louisiana and alleges that the parents’ children died after taking fentanyl-laced drugs purchased through the app.
SNAPCHAT LAW CLAUGHT ATTACKS 8 FENTANYL DEATHS IN 6 STATES DUE TO PILLS PURCHASED THROUGH THE APP
“In the eyes of the parents, and they say it to me over and over again, it’s all worth it if one child is spared by this work,” Bergman said. “That’s how we feel and that’s how we approach it.”
Since the Center’s first lawsuit against the big-tech company, it represents a total of 35 families with similar allegations against the social media app.
The most recent lawsuit specifically references Snapchat’s “My Eyes Only” and “Snap Map” features, alleging that they enable the illegal sale of counterfeit fentanyl pills.
“The disappearing messages feature makes it easy for drug dealers to have some sort of menu [of drugs] and in many cases we actually have an actual menu that they send these kids to communicate about delivering drugs often to someone’s doorstep,” Bergman said. [dealers] do so with the knowledge that the evidence of this crime will disappear forever, hidden from law enforcement and hidden from parents and hidden from any accountability.”
Rebekah Brown said she discovered a “menu” of drug offers on her son’s Snapchat after his death.
On Sept. 2, 2021, 18-year-old Cole Brown died of fentanyl toxicity after ingesting a counterfeit Percocet pill purchased through Snapchat, according to Rebekah Brown.
During an interview with Fox News, the mother pointed to a series of screenshots from her son’s phone with the words “trusted” and “trustworthy” next to a list of drug offers.
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Brown said her son began experimenting with drugs after struggling with his father’s death and depression.
“I never condoned it in our house — we weren’t drug users, we weren’t alcoholics. You know, we helped our son,” she said, fighting back tears. “He [Cole] didn’t want to die, you know, and kids make mistakes, but these days it kills them.”
Bergman takes a similar view, citing the suggestibility of adolescents.
“Let’s be clear, we don’t condone the sale of drugs or prescription drugs that are illegal. We don’t condone that in any way,” the attorney said. “But we know that young people make bad decisions, they shouldn’t die for it in all cases. These aren’t kids looking for fentanyl, they’re looking for OxyContin, they’re looking for Percocet.”
A Snapchat spokesperson declined to comment on the pending lawsuit, but said the company has made concerted efforts over the past two years to combat the problem, including: technology upgrades to detect and remove drug dealers, new protections for users and more cooperation with the law. enforcement.
The company said that since September 2021, more than 23% of drug-related reports received from users related to sales have fallen to 3.3% in December last year.
Last October, Snapchat released a tool called “Family Center” that allows parents to track and report activity. This week, the company debuted new content controls for the tool, allowing parents to “restrict the type of content their teens can view on Snapchat.”
Last month, during a hearing in the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on countering illicit fentanyl, Anne Milgram, an administrator with the Drug Enforcement Administration, pointed the blame not just at Snapchat, but at social media at large.
“We’re in a very different position than we were 20 years ago before social media existed, where someone potentially selling narcotics had a more personal relationship with the person buying,” Milgram explained to the committee. “Nowadays the cartels understand that if someone dies from taking their deadly fentanyl, there are 100 million other users on Snapchat they can sell their drugs to.”
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Later during her testimony, Milgram added, “We’re on these social media websites, platforms, and we’re seeing drug marketing and sales for these fake prescription pills, fake Oxygen, fake Adderall, fake Percocet that’s been on the market for months. be going.”
Milgram said current efforts by social media platforms to combat illicit drug sales “are not enough”.