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Senator Seeks To Hold Social Media Firms Accountable For Drug Deals

The death last year of a Johnson County, Ks., teenager poisoned by fentanyl has led to a congressional effort to make social media companies report illegal drug activity on their platforms. The Cooper Davis Act, introduced Thursday by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), requires communication service providers to work more closely with federal authorities who need data to fight illegal drug sales. Cooper Davis’s parents had told the Kansas City Star the pill laced with the synthetic opioid that killed their 16-year-old son was purchased by a friend who used Snapchat to hook up with a dealer in Missouri. Cooper and his friends thought they were taking Percocet pills. He was the only one who died. Libby Davis had said she had monitored her son’s Snapchat account and, “I could see drugs being sold on Snapchat, so it’s not hard to find. It’s definitely happening. “People were posting pictures of what they had for sale and how much they cost. And it was people in our area. I know he had routes to drugs on Snapchat.”

Marshall warned parents that “your children through social media, through the Snapchats, are able to purchase one tablet of fentanyl, which can kill them. So please parents, teachers, talk to your children about the dangers out there.” Marshall has described his proposal as a way to hold social media companies accountable. Law enforcement officials warn that an alarming rate of fentanyl-laced pills are sold through TikTok, Snapchat and other popular social media sites. Drug cartels trafficking fentanyl in the United States use vast distribution networks on social media, Marshall says. Drug dealers take payment via apps. Marshall and seven other Republican senators sent a letter this week to the CEOs of Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok asking them to identify the “steps your companies are taking to protect children and crackdown on illegal drug sales on your platforms” and “recognizing the role your platforms play in the evolving illicit drug ecosystem.”


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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