Federal authorities are investigating Meta for possible role in illicit drug sales on Facebook: Report

US prosecutors in Virginia are investigating Meta Platforms — the parent company of Facebook and Instagram — for potentially playing a role in facilitating illegal drug sales on their platforms, according to the New York Post.

The report mentioned that the prosecutors have already issued subpoenas and started questioning Meta about whether it has enabled and profited from illicit drug sales on its platform. Prosecutors have also requested records related to “violative drug content on Meta’s platforms and/or the illicit sale of drugs via Meta’s platforms.”

The Food and Drug Administration is reportedly helping with the investigation, according to people familiar with the situation. However, investigations like this do not always end in formal charges of wrongdoing, but what has been brought up is enough for the prosecutors to take a serious look.

A spokesperson for Meta said that [t]he sale of illicit drugs is against our policies and we work to find and remove this content from our services.”

“Meta proactively cooperates with law enforcement authorities to help combat the sale and distribution of illicit drugs.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that on Friday, Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, joined the State Department’s efforts to crack down on the sale of synthetic drugs online and educate users about the serious risks involved in it.

Clegg wrote the following on X on Friday: “The opioid epidemic is a major public health issue that requires action from all parts of US society. That’s why @Meta has joined the Alliance to Prevent Drug Harms alongside the @StateDept@UNODC & @Snapchat to help disrupt the sale of synthetic drugs online + educate users about the risks.”

Social media companies have recently come under fire from members of Congress for distributing content that has ultimately harmed young people, specifically children, per the report.

Lawmakers have been actively holding talks about the need to hold massive technology companies accountable for what third parties share on their platforms.

However, these efforts have been hampered by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which states that online platforms are not liable for what third parties post to their platforms.

There are only a few exceptions to this rule.

The Post reported that during the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth companies exploited Facebook and Instagram by advertising prescription drugs for the treatment of ADHD, anxiety, and other medical conditions.

The advertisements ultimately led to the abuse of controlled substances such as Adderall, per the report.

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