US prosecutors probe Meta’s Facebook over alleged illegal drug sales

Meta claims to be cooperating with law enforcement to stop drug sales and announced collaborative efforts with the US State Department, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Snapchat to tackle the issue and educate users on risks associated with it.

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US prosecutors in Virginia are delving into whether Meta’s social media platforms, including Facebook, served as conduits for illegal drug transactions and if Meta gained from these dealings.

Subpoenas have been issued as part of a criminal investigation, and requests targeting records linked to drug-related activities on Meta’s platforms have also been sent.

The Food and Drug Administration is aiding in the probe. Meanwhile, Meta asserts that drug sales breach its policies and says that it is cooperating with law enforcement to eradicate such content.

According to Meta, collaborative efforts between the US State Department, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and Snapchat aim to combat online drug sales and educate users on risks.

Meta, the FDA and the Virginia Attorney General’s office have opted not to comment on the ongoing investigation.

Why does it matter?

Recent data from the latest World Drug Report (2023) by UNODC indicates a decrease in end users purchasing drugs on the dark web compared to previous years. Instead, there is a growing trend of using social media, particularly at the retail level, for drug transactions.

In the United States, the concern regarding the illicit sale of drugs has extended to Congress last month, where bipartisan senators have collectively urged the FDA to address the promotion of prescription drugs on social media.