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To read more about Senator Lankford’s border security policy proposal, CLICK HERE.

Lankford, Daines, Colleagues Hold Social Media Giants Accountable for Role in Biden’s Fentanyl Crisis

WASHINGTON, DC –Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Steve Daines (R-MT) today led a group of  their colleagues in an effort to hold the CEOs of Instagram, TikTok, Snap Inc., and YouTube accountable for the illegal sale of fentanyl-laced pills to teenagers and young adults on their platforms. The  Senators demanded answers on what these platforms are doing to stop these sales- a crisis created by President Biden’s southern border crisis.

“We write to you today regarding reports that the use of your social media platforms has been linked to the sale of fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills that have caused the deaths of teens and young adults across the country. In light of the devastating rise in drug overdose deaths in the US, especially linked to fentanyl, we are requesting more information regarding steps your companies are taking to protect children and crackdown on illegal drug sales on your platforms,” the Senators wrote.

“Social media platforms like yours provide a convenient venue for dealers to anonymously and discreetly peddle these counterfeit pills to a young audience. With four in 10 of these pills containing a lethal dose of fentanyl, more and more of these online transactions are ending in tragedy,” the Senators continued.

Lankford and Daines were joined by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS).

Read the full letter HERE or below.

Dear Mr. Spiegel, Mr. Mosseri, Mrs. Wojcicki, and Mr. Chew, 

We write to you today regarding reports that the use of your social media platforms has been linked to the sale of fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills that have caused the deaths of teens and young adults across the country. In light of the devastating rise in drug overdose deaths in the U.S., especially linked to fentanyl, we are requesting more information regarding steps your companies are taking to protect children and crackdown on illegal drug sales on your platforms. 

According to recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose deaths reached a record-breaking level in 2021, with more than 100,000 Americans losing their lives to this awful scourge. A growing share of these deaths are coming from overdoses involving fentanyl. Last year, deaths involving illegally manufactured fentanyl rose 23 percent to 71,238. Among teenagers, the overdose death rate nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020—a deeply alarming climb that continued into 2021. 

Criminal drug networks are mass-producing fentanyl-laced pills and exploiting the ongoing crisis at our southern border caused by President Biden’s total inaction to smuggle thousands of pounds of fentanyl into our states. Drug dealers in our communities then market these deadly pills to unsuspecting buyers as legitimate prescription pills like Percocet, Xanax, and Adderall. Social media platforms like yours provide a convenient venue for dealers to anonymously and discreetly peddle these counterfeit pills to a young audience. With 4 in 10 of these pills containing a lethal dose of fentanyl, more and more of these online transactions are ending in tragedy. 

Recognizing the role your platforms play in the evolving illicit drug ecosystem, we respectfully request answers to the following questions and a follow-up meeting to discuss these important matters. 

  1. Each of your companies has noted, to some extent, your ability to detect harmful content, like illicit drug sales, on your platforms. How many such transactions occur as a result of your platform every day? 
  2. How many accounts have you removed for drug-related activity? 
  3. Surveys conducted of your youngest users on their drug knowledge have found that they are dangerously nai?ve to the prevalence of fentanyl on your platforms and its lethality. With these statistics in mind, has your company considered raising their minimum age for users? 
  4. Dealers will often move from one platform to another. How are you working with other platforms to share the relevant information about drug dealers and ensure their removal across platforms? 
  5. What steps do you take to prevent banned users from creating new accounts? 
  6. Do you offer any resources to the parents of your youngest users to monitor who they are communicating with on your platforms? 
  7. What data are you sharing with law enforcement when you identify a drug dealer on your platform? 
  8. Have you worked with any federal agencies like the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or partnered with any organizations to raise awareness of the dangers of fentanyl? 
  9. What steps have you taken to raise awareness around the dangers of fentanyl amongst your users? 

 Sincerely,

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