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By CBSLA Staff
/ CBS Los Angeles
It’s been more than two years since Amy Neville lost her son Alex after the 14-year-old took a fentanyl-laced pill he found through Snapchat.
“I wish there was still that shady drug dealer down the street in the alley because Alex was a big chicken,” said Amy. “He would have never put himself in that type of situation. But the fact that this dark thing was brought into the light through social media — it made it very easy to be done.”
The former Aliso Viejo yoga instructor is now the vice president of Void a nonprofit advocating against illicit drugs, particularly fentanyl. In a new report, the nonprofit claimed social media companies aren’t doing enough to prevent kids from reaching dealers.
“There is a very, very dark world on these social media platforms and it’s right there in our kids’ pockets,” said Neville.
In a statement, Snapchat said it has worked with counternarcotics, law enforcement and other experts to raise awareness of fentanyl. Additionally, they have immediately banned drug dealer accounts and blocked search results for drug keywords and much more.
While Neville believes that it was a good start, she believes companies like Snapchat could do much more.
“We’re at a point now where the obvious stuff doesn’t quite work,” Neville said. “But these drug traffickers use symbols, they start misspelling words in ways that people will still find them.”
For example, simply typing #oxy on Facebook prompts an error message saying “content in those posts goes against our community standards. However, purposely misspelling oxycodone garners a post with a video of pills.
The report suggests making it easier for people to report traffickers and enabling parental controls for young users but also calls for a third party to monitor social media companies and their policies.
The CBS LA Staff is a group of experienced journalists who bring you the content on CBSLA.com.
First published on September 28, 2022 / 5:40 PM
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