Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published new data showing that drug overdose deaths in the U.S have soared to record levels -- increasing more than 30% in 2020 and finding that this spike was driven by the prevalence of fentanyl, a lethal substance, and compounded by stressors from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Song for Charlie, a national organization focused on educating young people about the dangers of fentanyl, many of these deaths occur from taking a single pill disguised as a legitimate prescription medication, but actually was counterfeit -- containing fentanyl. And young people, who often experiment with prescription pills such as Xanax and Percocet, are especially vulnerable.
We first began working with Song for Charlie earlier this year to better understand the fentanyl epidemic and identify ways we and other tech companies can help make a difference. Today they are launching a new nationwide public awareness campaign to reach young people where they are -- on tech platforms -- and educate them about the hidden dangers of these fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl. We are grateful to partner with Song for Charlie to help inform our Snapchat community on how to protect themselves and their loved ones.
As part of this effort, our in-house news show, Good Luck America, dedicated a special episode to the fentanyl epidemic featuring an interview with Song for Charlie Founder, Ed Ternan, who tragically lost his 22-year old son Charlie after taking a fake prescription pill. You can watch the full episode below, or on our Discover content platform.
In addition, Snapchatters can now watch PSAs produced by Song for Charlie on our Discover platform and use a new Augmented Reality (AR) lens that features key facts on the dangers of fentanyl. The lens also links to more information to help educate and inform their closest friends and encourages people to take the “No Random Pills” pledge. This initial launch is the first in a sustained partnership between Song for Charlie and Snap, which will include additional in-app education and public awareness initiatives.
As we work to raise awareness, we also are working to strengthen our efforts to better prevent, detect and combat drug-related activity on Snapchat. Our guidelines prohibit the sale or promotion of illegal drugs, and when we proactively detect this type of content or it is reported to us, our Trust and Safety teams take quick action.
We block drug-related terms, including slang, from usernames or being searchable on Snapchat, and regularly audit these block lists with the latest language, working closely with third-party experts. We are also constantly updating our machine learning tools for proactively identifying images, words, emojis and other likely indicators of drug-related accounts, along with other capabilities for finding and stopping drug transactions.
We are committed to continuing to do our part to help our community protect themselves and their friends, while we keep improving our capabilities for fighting drug dealers and drug-related content online.