By CBSLA Staff

SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) — In response to rallies across the country calling for Snapchat to be held accountable for overdose deaths that result from drug sales on the platform, the company issued the following statement.

“Our hearts go out to families who have lost loved ones to fentanyl and other illicit drugs. At Snap we strictly prohibit drug-related activity on our platform, aggressively enforce against these violations, and support law enforcement in their investigations. We work to be as proactive as possible in preventing, detecting and combating this type of abuse, and are constantly improving our capabilities in this area. We stand in support of those who are raising awareness on the dangers of fentanyl pills and are committed to being a partner in these efforts.”

It also said it was taking the following steps to stop illegal drug transactions on the app:

  • We are committed to continuing to make meaningful changes both in our operational work to combat drug dealers on Snapchat, and in efforts to raise awareness with Snapchatters about these threats and how they can protect themselves.
  • We are working with experts to further improve our work to combat this activity, including safety experts who regularly update our moderation teams about new trends, harms, terminology, symbols and emojis that are being used to represent and promote drugs.
  • We are constantly updating our tools to block new language that drug dealers use when selling drugs. We are also improving our capabilities for finding and stopping drug transactions, which include machine learning tools.
  • We partner with roughly 40 nonprofits, NGOs, and safety partners for our Trusted Flagger Program, which gives these experts a secure way to report content that violates our Guidelines and expedite critical safety issues.
  • Given the number of young people using Snapchat every day, we believe that the most impactful way we can provide support and education for young people is in-app. With this in mind, earlier this year we launched a feature called “Here For You”, which includes warnings on the impact that drugs can have on one’s mental health. We’ve also partnered with the AdCouncil and the Truth Campaign to run pro bono public service ads that highlight opioid abuse and awareness in a way that resonates with teens.
  • We have also launched a digital literacy initiative to further educate Snapchatters on how to protect their privacy and safety when using our products. This includes a new content channel that provides monthly information on different topics, and we will cover illegal drug activity along other other critical issues.
  • As part of this effort, we recently rolled out a new tool called “Friend Check Up,” which prompts Snapchatters to review their Friend lists and make sure it’s made up of people they still want to be connected with.
  • We have put a lot of thought into ensuring that Snapchat is as safe a platform as possible for our users:
    • The app is designed as a platform for close friends and family and prioritizes one-to-one and small group communication; we’ve intentionally made it difficult for strangers to identify, much less contact, people that they don’t know on Snapchat.
    • Snapchat does not have browsable public profiles, users’ friends lists are only visible to themselves, and by default you cannot receive a message from someone who you haven’t added as a friend.
    • Because our Discover platform for news and entertainment (the publicly viewable side of Snapchat) is tightly controlled and moderated, rather than a space where regular users can publicly “broadcast” user-generated content like Snaps or Stories, offers for drugs will not appear in Discover in the same way that they might in other platforms’ newsfeeds.
    • These features make it harder for dealers to market or offer drugs to large audiences on Snapchat than on other platforms.
    • We also make it easy for Snapchatters to report any concerns to us directly in our app — in a way that is confidential, allows us to investigate any issues quickly, and work with law enforcement to support their investigations where relevant.