Meta's Alleged Illegal Drug Trade Under Investigation By U.S. Prosecutors

By Thea Felicity

Mar 19, 2024 10:17 AM EDT

A photograph shows the Meta logo at the Meta showroom in Brussels on December 07, 2022.
(Photo : Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

US prosecutors in Virginia are set to investigate Meta's alleged illegal drug trade. In a first report by the Wall Street Journal, subpoenas have been issued as part of this criminal probe, targeting records related to drug activities on Meta's platforms.

In response, Meta claims to be cooperating with law enforcement to eliminate drug-related content, asserting that such sales violate its policies. 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be assisting in the investigation to verify their claims. The company also announced collaborative efforts with the US State Department, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Snapchat to combat online drug sales and educate users about associated risks.

READ NEXT: South Korea Regulator May Sanction Meta Over Facebook and Instagram Marketplaces: Report 

The Concern Behind Meta's Alleged Illegal Drug Trade Involvement

Now, what makes the claim concerning is due to recent data from the latest World Drug Report (2023) by UNODC, which suggests a shift in drug purchasing trends, with a decrease in dark web transactions and a rise in using social media for drug sales, especially at the retail level. 

In the US, bipartisan senators have raised concerns about the promotion of prescription drugs on social media platforms. Thereby, the FDA is urged to take action, especially with a recent case from Meta's alleged illegal drug trade involvement.

Meta, the US Food and Drug Administration, and the Virginia Attorney General's office have declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

However, Meta reiterated its rules for posting unsafe substances on its platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Threads. In their announcement, they implemented strict guidelines prohibiting the promotion of illegal drugs, recreational drugs, and other potentially harmful substances, products, or supplements. 

Meanwhile, ads that solicit, sell, or encourage the use of these substances are strictly prohibited, avoiding Meta's alleged illegal drug trade involvement once more. 

However, there are exceptions for references to prohibited substances in political advocacy, news, and awareness campaigns, as long as they do not promote their sale or consumption. 

Meta's enforcement of these policies is global, with a team of over 15,000 reviewers working to ensure compliance and prevent illegal drug sales. The company also engages with external experts, academics, NGOs, and policymakers to inform its Community Standards and provide best practices are upheld.

READ MORE: Meta And Snapchat Deny Limiting Palestinian Content Amid Israel-Hamas Conflict

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