Opioid users who use Facebook to find drugs are in for a surprise. Starting this week, Facebook users attempting to purchase opioids or seeking out addiction treatment will be redirected to an opioid crisis hotline. The process of Facebook redirecting opioid users to get help comes on the heels of federal pressure on tech companies to police sales on their platforms.

Facebook Redirecting Opioid Users To Help Months in the Making

Facebook’s decision to redirect opioid users to resources for help was not an overnight decision. Facebook worked for months with a policy team focused on how the company can proactively address America’s opioid crisis. Facebook’s action comes one week before an FDA-held “opioid summit” urging social media companies to take measures to curb the opioid epidemic. In addition to Facebook, the FDA also invited other social media platforms such as Twitter, Bing, Google, Yahoo and Reddit. According to a May 30th, 2018 article published by STAT News, The FDA also invited online-shopping sites eBay, Amazon as well as Craigslist.

At the summit, tech companies will outline what they are doing to reduce opioid use. Additionally, these companies will be urged to find new approaches in addressing the major issues of drug dependence and addiction. The new action of Facebook redirecting opioid users to helplines and other resources is the newest initiative they have taken to address important issues. In recent years, Facebook has rolled out social initiatives including suicide prevention and gun sales among others.

“Facebook is Full of Illegal Opioid Marketing”

A major part of Facebook’s decision is due to the fact that domestic and overseas sellers are using Facebook pages and ads to sell opioid drugs. In an article published last November by CNBC, writer John Shinal detailed the widespread use of ads selling opioids and other drugs.

According to CNBC’s investigation, illicit marketing for drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, Percocet and other drugs were widespread on Facebook. Worse yet, these ads were commonplace months after widespread media coverage and weeks after the Trump administration declared the opioid epidemic a major health crisis.

Below is an example of a general search CNBC had done for roxicodone and similar drugs:

Oftentimes, posts such as the one above can remain undetected for months. Below is an example of another similar search with advertisements for opioid drugs posted a couple months prior:

In a statement following the investigation, Facebook told CNBC the following:

Anyone can report content to us if they think it violates our standards. People can flag pages, profiles, individual content, and/or comments to us for review.

Upon receiving these reports, our Community Operations team, which is global and reviews content 24/7 in over 40 different languages, reviews reports against our Community Standards to determine if they violate. We remove violating content as soon as we become aware of it.

In this case, a number of the Pages that turn up based on the search terms you provided were in violation of our policies. They have been removed from the platform

The report went on to state that Facebook may have relied on users to report illegal drug sales and advertisements and not a dedicated team. In the article, it states that Facebook would be hiring 20,000 employees for the purpose of discovering prohibited content.

Other Media Sites in the Crosshairs

Facebook isn’t the only site feeling increased scrutiny and pressure. The CNBC article also pointed out that YouTube had also become a common platform for opioid drug advertising. In November of last year, CNBC performed a simple search of “oxycodone pills for sale” and found the following:

When contacted by CNBC, a YouTube spokesman issued the following statement:

YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit any content encouraging dangerous or illegal activities, this includes content promoting the sale of drugs. We routinely remove videos and comments flagged by our community that violate those policies and in many cases we terminate the accounts of users who violate our Guidelines.

When doing a current search for “oxycodone pills for sale”, the following few examples are shown on the first page:

Likewise, when doing a search for “fentanyl for sale”, the following few videos pull up in search:

While a majority of videos highlight the dangers of these drugs, there are a small number of videos which may highlight ways people can obtain opioid drugs through illicit means. Much like Facebook and other social media platforms, Youtube is in a never-ending fight to remove prohibited material.

The DarkNet: The Final Frontier

Government bodies, law enforcement agencies, and other institutions are also battling illicit drug advertising through what is known as the
DarkNet“. This small part of the Internet is defined by TurboFuture as the following:

a small portion of the deep web that is intentionally hidden and made inaccessible via search engines (the Tor network, only accessible via Tor browser)

The contents found within the dark web are not found in normal search engines. Instead, people access it through what is known as onion networks. Developed by the United States Navy, it is used by the military, government, and law enforcement agencies. The biggest asset to these networks is that one’s location can remain private and is not easily tracked. This proves to be a perfect haven for those selling opioids and other drugs.

Perhaps the most famous example of a dark net site is the Silk Road. Founded in 2011, Silk Road was known as the first online black market site. It was initially shut down in 2013, and Silk Road 2.0 and 3.0 have also been shut down. However, there is Silk Road version 3.1 that was launched last year.

As with previous versions, people can buy opioids, benzodiazepines, cannabis, stimulants and other prescription drugs. People purchase items through bitcoin transactions.

Your Drug Treatment Facility is a Major Line of Defense

No matter how people obtain opioid drugs, dependence and addiction takes a major toll on the addict and their family. Your drug treatment facility can provide the services and support people need to get and stay sober. It is important that you have the best reach possible. The first step in maximizing your facility’s potential is by calling Stodzy Internet Marketing today.

We have many years of cumulative experience working in the drug treatment facility field. We know and ins and outs and can help you create a marketing plan that has extensive reach to your target audience. From website design and local SEO marketing to print and radio advertising and portfolio creation, Stodzy Internet Marketing will work with you in create a marketing plan that will work with your budget.

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    Tim Stoddart

    Tim Stoddart is the CEO of Stodzy Internet Marketing. He lives in Nashville with his wife and hit adorable pitbull, Alice. Tim loves to write about digital marketing and personal growth. You can learn more at TimStodz.com

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