Snap & The Alliance to Prevent Drug Harms

July 11, 2024

Today, Snap is honored to join two fellow tech companies, the government, and the United Nations (UN) in launching The Alliance to Prevent Drug Harms, a public-private partnership focused on disrupting illicit online drug activity and doubling down on awareness-raising and educational efforts, both online and off.

At a ceremony at the U.S. Mission to the UN in New York earlier today, Snap, the U.S. State Department, and colleagues at Meta and X signed on as the founding members of the initiative, which will be facilitated by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). 

With special thanks to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Ambassador Christopher Lu, Deputy Assistant Secretary Maggie Nardi, and representatives from UNODC and fellow tech companies, we encourage other technology platforms and services to join this important fight against a whole-of-society issue that requires our concerted, collective action.

Indeed, as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration notes on its website, criminal drug networks are abusing social media platforms to expand their reach, create new markets, and target new clientele. The fentanyl crisis in the U.S. has reached epidemic proportions. More than 100,000 people in this country have died of drug overdoses in 12 months with fentanyl being a primary driver. Sadly, we have heard heartbreaking stories detailing some of those tragedies. It’s devastating – to the parents and families, to us at Snap, and to our global society. 

When it comes to communicating with their real friends, we know Snapchat is the platform of choice among teenagers and young adults in the U.S. and in many countries around the world. Snapchat reaches 90% of 13-to-24-year-olds in this country. We recognize that bad actors will attempt to misuse and abuse our platform to reach this vulnerable and impressionable audience. 

Since 2021, as the U.S. saw the number of fentanyl-driven tragedies rise, Snap has been fighting back to combat the misuse of our platform for such activity. We adopted a company-wide strategy to make Snapchat a hostile environment for drug dealers to operate and drug content to circulate. This includes developing and deploying technology to proactively detect illicit drug content and drug-related activity; increasing our support for law enforcement investigations and making proactive referrals to law enforcement in the hopes of prompting an investigation; and raising awareness of these potentially fatal risks and harms directly with Snapchatters in our app and among the broader public.

Building on our internal efforts, in early 2022, we reached out to Meta to explore sharing patterns and signals of illicit drug-related content and activity across our platforms. Two years later, that program will serve as a centerpiece among tech companies, advancing the first of the new Alliance’s three goals:  

  • Cross-industry best practice-sharing to disrupt illicit and harmful online drug activity

  • Awareness-raising and educational efforts — both online and off — to prevent non-medical use of synthetic drugs

  • Cross-sector collaboration on campaigns and tools to help address overdose prevention and support those seeking treatment options

At Snap, we routinely say our work in this space may never be done, but we are encouraged that the collective will of this Alliance will make a bold and significant step in the right direction.

— Jacqueline Beauchere, Snap Global Head of Platform Safety

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