Zuckerberg admits need for better tools to tackle illegal online opioid sales
Breaking News Apr 13, 2018
Zuckerberg admits need for better tools to tackle illegal online opioid sales

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s accountability related to illegal opioid sales on Facebook was recently questioned by the Congress. On April 11, 2018, West Virginia Rep. David McKinley accused Facebook of not doing enough to remove the posts on illegal opioid sales and allowing people to buy highly addictive drugs. “Your platform is still being used to circumvent the law and allow people to buy highly addictive drugs without a prescription. With all due respect, Facebook is actually enabling an illegal activity and in so doing, you are hurting people. You’d agree with that statement?” Zuckerberg’s only response was that the company needs to build robust artificial intelligence (AI) tools to address the problem; however, he refrained from giving any timelines for when the tools would be in place.

Facebook is currently dependent on its security and content reviewers who can take action when users report any unlawful activity. He plans to add 20,000 people by the end of 2018 to handle this responsibility; however, he also admitted that even this number would not suffice in looking at all the content being posted. During the heated session, he also revealed that Facebook already has good AI systems in place that can track down 99 percent of ISIS content before it reaches the viewers.

A week ago, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb had urged all social media giants to take “practical steps to find and remove these illegal opioid listings.”

When questioned by Republican John Carter from Texas on when he would meet other representatives to discuss the matter, Zuckerberg did not specify if he would be attending any such meet. He even didn’t seem to be aware of any such initiative.

Facebook brings down drug hashtags

Online drug sale is quite popular among drug seekers. In an attempt to deter drug sellers, Facebook has blocked all hashtags pertaining to drugs on Instagram – like #opioids, #fentanyl, #OxyContin and. Facebook spokesperson Erin Egan said that the company would ensure to takes multiple measures to minimize such kinds of activities on its online platforms.

The reason why social media is fueling opioid sales is because of relatively less policing than the search results. In 2017, the American Journal of Public Health Study found nearly 1,800 tweets marketing sale of controlled substances with keywords Codeine, Percocet, OxyContin, Oxycodone, fentanyl, and more.

Opioid addiction can be treated

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 63,600 people died due to drug overdose in 2016. Even though the federal government is taking active measures to control the crisis, the battle needs to be fought at personal, social and community levels as well. Addiction to any drug is bound to leave a negative impact on the life of user and his/her families and as part of treatment, opioid withdrawal should be undertaken under the guidance of an expert.

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