In the United States, many teenagers have died after using adulterated drugs bought on Snapchat. This Monday, their families mobilized to ask social networks to act against this scourge.

“I am here to warn people against the dangers of social networks”, explained Sam Chapman, who came to demonstrate in front of the headquarters of Snapchat in Santa Monica (California). His son Sammy died in February 2021 of poisoning with fentanyl, a very powerful and addictive opiate present without his knowledge in the drug pill bought on Snapchat.

Spike in fentanyl poisonings

The teenager, who should have celebrated his 18th birthday in early June, was watching the Super Bowl in his bedroom on a Sunday evening when his parents found him dead. “He stopped breathing, fell backwards from his chair and choked on his own vomit,” his father recalled.

Of the 107,000 overdose deaths recorded in 2021 in the United States, 70% were caused by fentanyl poisoning. According to the associations that organized the demonstration, it is now the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 45.

Unnecessary “advanced technology”?

For the parents of the victims, Snapchat has “become like the ‘dark Web’ for children”. They ask the platforms acclaimed by young people to take concrete action to curb this phenomenon. A spokesperson for Snapchat reacted, assuring that the social network was working “tirelessly” to “eradicate illegal drug sellers” on its platform.

According to the Californian firm, state-of-the-art technology makes it possible to “proactively detect and close the accounts” of dealers, and block results related to narcotics in its search engine. But for Sam Chapman, the system does not work because the dealers use emojis and code words which are not blocked.

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