Social networks not cooperating in the fight against fentanyl, DEA top brass says

Anne Milgram, director of the federal agency, said in an interview that many online platforms do not do enough to prevent the sale of drugs through their services.

"Until recently we haven't gotten nearly as much cooperation as we need," said Anne Milgram, director of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), about the role of social media in the war on fentanyl. Milgram, in the position since 2021, gave an interview to NBC in which she addressed some of the major obstacles the agency encounters every day.

During the interview, Milgram spoke on several occasions about the role of social media in the promotion and distribution of fentanyl. Milgram reminded that online platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat or Telegram must obey legal terms of use. She pointed out that, in any case, it is illegal to sell drugs through the platforms and that the companies in charge must fight against these activities in addition to providing all necessary assistance to federal agencies.

"This is an absolute emergency, so they have to be doing absolutely everything they can to get the deadly drugs off their platforms," the DEA director said. Milgram further said that many social networks become just what drug traffickers need to sell: an advertising platform.

According to the director, the agency is maintaining a line of dialogue with the main social media companies to address this issue. "The deputy attorney general called us all together in April this year and made it very clear, first of all, that companies have to comply with their own terms of service. ... You can't sell fake pills. You can't sell drugs on social networks," Milgram said.

From Milgram's statements, it can be understood that the most pressing issue for the agency is to obtain the collaboration and information available to the platforms in the relevant cases. It can be assumed that the problem lies in being able to provide such information without violating privacy policies and providing individual information belonging to users to federal agencies. "Law enforcement needs to get information from the social media companies," Milgram stressed.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that deaths associated with overdoses related to fentanyl mixed with xylazine have increased by 276% in just three years.

The CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report exposed that overdose deaths from the two substances combined increased from 2.9% (January 2019) to 10.9% (June 2022).