Facebook’s platform is often used as a black market by cybercriminals to sell or trade drugs, guns and other nefarious products. However, the company took a big step this week toward preventing drug sales on the site. According to a report in TechCrunch, the company has stopped surfacing all search results for terms like “OxyContin,” “Xanax,” “Fentanyl,” “LSD” and more.
Now when a user searches these terms, all they will see are videos, news reports and user profile names. (Of course, some drug dealers have started putting drug terms in their profile names in order to still be found via search.) This move comes in the wake of Facebook receiving harsh criticism from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for not doing enough to combat the opioid crisis.
“Internet firms simply aren’t taking practical steps to find and remove these illegal opioid listings,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said this spring. “There’s ample evidence of narcotics being advertised and sold online. I know that internet firms are reluctant to cross a threshold, where they could find themselves taking on a broader policing role. But these are insidious threats being propagated on these web platforms.”
This is a simple change, but it could have a potentially huge effect on stemming the illegal sale of drugs online. Let’s hope Facebook keeps taking actions like this to wipe scammers and crooks from its platform.