United States: Facebook and Instagram suspected of facilitating illegal drug sales

United States: Facebook and Instagram suspected of facilitating illegal drug sales

While 700,000 people died between 1999 and 2022 in the United States from overdoses linked to the taking opiates legally obtained or not, the Meta group and its Instagram and Facebook platforms are suspected of facilitating and profiting from illegal drug sales, leading federal prosecutors to open a criminal investigation in 2023, wrote Saturday the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The American economic daily, referring to documents and people close to the case, specifies that subpoenas and interrogations were carried out as part of proceedings before a grand jury, made up of citizens who participate in the phase of ‘instruction.

The latter must determine whether Meta’s platforms “facilitate and profit from the illegal sale of drugs” and must therefore be prosecuted, explains the WSJ, which claims to have consulted subpoenas distributed in 2023.

Federal prosecutors in the eastern state of Virginia “have requested records related to content on medicines in violation (with regulations) on Meta platforms and/or on the illegal sale of medicines via Meta platforms “. The American Medicines Agency (FDA) is supporting this federal investigation, adds the daily. Asked by AFP on Saturday, the FDA and Meta did not respond immediately.

“Meta cooperates with law enforcement”

But a Meta spokesperson told the WSJ that “the illegal sale of drugs (is) against our policy and we are working to find and remove this content from our services”. “Meta is proactively cooperating with law enforcement to help combat the illegal sale and distribution of drugs,” she said.

Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of international affairs, posted Friday on X (formerly Twitter) that the group had joined the Alliance to Prevent Drug Harm, alongside the US State Department and the Office of United Nations on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC).

The objective is, in particular, “to help prevent the sale of synthetic drugs on the Internet,” he explained, noting that the opioid crisis constituted a “major public health problem” in the United States.

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