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Facebook Looks to Curb Substance Abuse with New Guidelines
Facebook has recently revealed new updates and guidelines that look to curb illicit drug sales and substance abuse.
By: Addiction Now
The statement was published following claims that were made by the Washington Post.
Although Bickert and other representatives of the company promised that they would be cracking down on sales of illicit substances, the Washington Post claimed that the algorithms of some of the services offered by Facebook — particularly services that deliver tailored feeds, such as Facebook's marketplace and Instagram — promoted the spread of illicit content.
The publication also claimed that Facebook has been exposing some of the most vulnerable members of its community to drugs and consequently substance abuse.
Facebook's statement highlighted that its representatives have been working with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to raise awareness about the epidemic, connect users who seek to drugs with professional treatment and support those who may be struggling with substance use disorders.
Specific steps to address these issues were also outlined. The steps included: establishing partnerships with outside organizations and trade experts to control illicit sales; flagging and disabling content that doesn't adhere to established guidelines; proactively investigating accounts, hashtags, groups, and pages that are associated with prohibited content; and developing innovative technology to identify instances when users attempt to sell or trade drugs.
The announcement came after a number of recent promises and pledges made by Facebook employees.
Yet, according to the Washington Post article, even though pledges to adopt more strict regulations had been made, Facebook's services continue to appear to serve as marketplaces for illicit trades, allowing drugs and other regulated goods to be advertised.
While Bickert's article recognized that Facebook needed to do more to address the problem, it also claims that the findings published by the Washington Post were misleading.
Facebook's marketplace was introduced in 2016 to every user over the age of 18 located in the U.S., Australia, the U.K., and New Zealand. The feature can now be used in more than 70 countries and more than one in every three Facebook users based in America utilize the marketplace.
On October 2, the company announced that updates have been made to not only celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the marketplace but also to improve users' experiences. The announcement highlighted that new features, which use artificial intelligence, would be introduced to the service to allow people to have more shopping options and conduct faster transactions.
Facebook representatives stated that the new features are efforts to not only create a more reliable and secure community but also to facilitate the detection of inappropriate content.
Instagram recently followed suit and on September 12 officials announced a new feature that had been designed as an effort to curb substance abuse and reduce the number of illicit transactions.
The feature redirects users who search for hashtags or posts related to drugs to numerous free resources including confidential referrals to addiction treatment providers and information on substance abuse and prevention.
Those who look up certain words or hashtags will see a pop-up that asks 'can we help?' and describes the aforementioned resources. The pop-up also offers three options: get support, see posts anyway, or cancel.
Representatives explained that the reason why users may choose to see posts anyway is that certain hashtags are not only used by people who are trying to buy or sell illegal substances but also by those who are struggling and looking for recovery support in the community.