The United States Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced on Wednesday that they are investigating Snapchat, the Santa Monica-based social media app operated by Snap Inc., into possible use of the platform. -form for the sale of drugs.

The investigation is specifically targeting fentanyl-related cases, according to a Bloomberg report. Lawyers plan to interview the parents of children who died from overdoses while investigators try to access the victims’ social media accounts in the hope of identifying the suppliers.

A local mother, Amy Neville, made a trip to Washington, DC on Wednesday, hoping her own investigation and advocacy with government officials can help make a difference. His son Alexander was just 14 when he overdosed on a pill containing the highly toxic synthetic opioid.

Neville says she and her husband started noticing a change in Alexander and asked him if he had started experimenting with drugs. After briefly denying their accusations, he told the truth.

“I wanted to try the oxy,” Neville said, recalling a conversation she had with her son. “I got some from a Snapchat dealer. He has a hold on me and I don’t know why.”

That same night, Alexandre took the pill that would eventually cost him his life.

Since June 2020, Neville has been private in hopes of ensuring no other parent has to go through what she has, starting with raising awareness of fentanyl sales being made via Snapchat.

On Wednesday, she spoke to a US Energy and Commerce Committee that focused on the role the popular app has played in the crisis. One of the biggest problems, especially for parents who like to keep an eye on their children’s online characters, is that messages and photos on Snapchat disappear after being viewed, making it a platform ideal for resellers who hope to remain discreet.

“We’re at a point now where these kids are telling me that these drug dealers treat them like sexual predators,” Neville said. “They become friends with them and take advantage of the fact that they are vulnerable.”

Bloomberg cited sources who say Snapchat records obtained through subpoenas showed teens using the platform to contact dealers, thinking they were buying prescription pills. Instead, they ended up being mixed with fentanyl or pure fentanyl.

The company says it has made significant operational improvements to detect and remove drug dealers from the platform and works closely with law enforcement and other groups to raise awareness of drug issues, fentanyl and counterfeit pills.

Snapchat representatives released a statement Wednesday, saying the company is “committed to doing its part to address the national fentanyl poisoning crisis, which includes using cutting-edge technology to help us to proactively find and close the accounts of drug traffickers”.

“We’re blocking search results for drug-related terms, redirecting Snapchatters to expert resources on the dangers of fentanyl,” the rep said. “We are continually expanding our support for law enforcement investigations, helping them bring resellers to justice, and we are working closely with experts to share reseller business models across platforms to identify and stop illegal behavior faster. We will continue to do everything we can to fight this outbreak, including working with other technology companies, public health agencies, law enforcement, families and non-profit organizations.”

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