A personal note from
Steve Filson and Amy Neville
Every week we meet parents whose children, like ours, were murdered by drug sellers trafficking on social media. Social media has become a comfortable way for online traffickers to discover and market to new customers. Because social media users trend young, the victims of these traffickers are trending younger too.
Drug traffickers use all of the tools and platforms of social media, from still images to video, with the same ease that others use them to post adorable kitten videos. Like any other kind of business, dealers use social media to recruit customers, advertise products, and drive sales. Some traffickers run small, local operations. Others operate multistate rings and coordinate sales across multiple social media channels.
We thought that social media companies wouldn’t stand for drug traffickers on their platforms killing our children—and dozens of others. Despite our pleas, and those of so many other victims’ families, and despite the subsequent promises of almost every major social media platform, organizations who track these deaths report that the problem is still growing.
How many more grieving parents are enough? It’s unclear when we will reach the threshold for social media giants to take meaningful action.
However, platforms could act today. From our research with law enforcement, parent safety groups, and anti-child pornography advocates, we have identified concrete changes social media companies can implement now to thwart illicit drug sales.
We are grateful for our fellow Commission members’ participation in recruiting subject experts and developing recommendations. The Commission offers these recommendations for voluntary implementation or possibly new legislation to protect our children.