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Teenage Drug Overdoses Linked to Snapchat; Parents Sue the Platform

Opioid CrisisThe increased use of opioids has caused an alarming amount of fatalities among adolescents and young adults in the country. This has been a problem for some time, however, it has become especially concerning in the last decade. From 2010 to 2020, the number of overdose deaths among adolescents doubled. Each day, parents nationwide are receiving the heartbreaking news that their child has passed away due to a drug overdose. Although parents can play a key role in helping to limit drug misuse and consequently reduce the risk of an overdose, they are not able to counter the influence of social media on their children, as many messaging apps, such as Snapchat, are so widespread.

Numerous attempts by public health organizations to reduce drug misuse and overdose among adolescents have been made, but parents are increasingly worried about the potential risks posed by messaging applications such as Snapchat. This has given way to lawsuits filed by parents alleging that Snapchat’s algorithmic structure encourages drug dealers to advertise and sell narcotics to teens without being held accountable.

If you lost a loved one due to a Fentanyl poisoning incident organized through Snapchat, our compassionate personal injury lawyers are here to help you explore your legal rights and options. Give us a call at 866-778-5500 or complete our online form to learn how we can help.

Are There Drug Dealers on Snapchat Selling to Users?

“Centers for Disease Control noted a 109% rise in overdoses between 2019 and 2021 and a 182% surge in deaths caused by fentanyl….”
A comprehensive investigation by Bloomberg has revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Justice Department are concentrating on fentanyl poisoning incidents that were organized through Snapchat. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid commonly administered in hospitals as an anesthetic, however, it is also often combined with other drugs for recreational use, such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamines. This has resulted in an alarming increase in overdose and drug-related fatalities among American teens, with the Centers for Disease Control noting a 109% rise in overdoses between 2019 and 2021 and a 182% surge in deaths caused by fentanyl.

Federal agents have been collaborating with parents of kids who have died from fentanyl poisoning to find out who has been selling these drugs to children. Many teenagers who experienced an overdose of fentanyl did not actually intend on consuming the drug. When they try to get Percocet, Xanax, or any other drug through a Snapchat drug dealer, they are instead given counterfeit drugs containing fentanyl. One mother said that her son informed her he had bought Oxycodone from one of these Snapchat dealers. She signed him up for treatment but found him dead the next day. The pills he thought were Oxycodone were actually fentanyl.

What Methods Does Snapchat Use to Entice Teenagers?

Snapchat has an impressive number of users in the US, with almost 85 million people using the app. It is particularly popular among teenagers, with 35% of them picking it as their go-to social media platform. The main attraction of Snapchat is its exclusive privacy settings that stop parental oversight and motivate users to use the app daily. Moreover, Snapchat allows users to share their location with their followers.

Many claim that Snapchat takes advantage of the mental state of impressionable preteens and teenagers. Allegations are made that the social media website manipulates the reward system of the brain in order to keep young people using their app. Furthermore, some have gone as far as to file lawsuits against Snapchat, stating that the platform gives teenagers access to damaging material and diminishes parents’ ability to keep track of their kids, while increasing the chances for predators to target minors.

Snapchat users communicate with one another through “snaps.” If two users send each other snaps on three consecutive days, they receive a “snapstreak.” If either user fails to respond, they lose their streak status. Some people feel that snapstreaks motivate teenagers to keep the streaks going, resulting in more time being spent on the platform. These snaps disappear after being seen, which can prevent them from being monitored and cause a false impression of safety in users. This misguided feeling can encourage predators to seek out teenagers and draw them into risky situations that may have fatal consequences.

Snapchat also has a feature called “snap map” that allows users to share their locations publicly. While some teens limit this information to those they are familiar with, their friends, the term “friends” is interpreted much more broadly by Snapchat and may extend it to people they do not know personally. This has raised concerns that the feature could be used to facilitate contact between drug dealers and teens on the app.

Is Snapchat Liable for the Deaths of Teenagers?

No Fee PromiseMost teenagers in America use social media of some sort. Social media has been known to cause emotional, mental, and physical health issues. Several of these apps prioritize enticement and retention of teens and preteens on their platforms. While there are positive elements to social media, such as learning opportunities and the capacity to build relationships, the majority of content is not beneficial, like glamorizing drug use.

Snapchat refused to make any statements regarding the legal action taken against them, but a status report has been released with details about their proposed defense. They may attempt to have the case thrown out by arguing that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act absolves them from any accountability for the actions of other parties. However, they could still be held responsible for not warning users, faulty design, discrimination, and other personal injury claims.

If you lost a loved one due to Fentanyl poisoning incident that was organized through Snapchat, we are here to help. Our personal injury lawyers at Console & Associates, P.C. are investigating these claims and can provide you with your legal options through a free consultation. Give us a call at 866-778-5500 or complete our online form to get started.

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