Substance abuse, particularly of opioid, has been around for centuries and has never truly disappeared. It’s a never-ending battle to protect lives, families, and friends, using whatever means available at the time. For our generation, those means include the Internet, one of the most powerful tools in the world today. Fortunately, those who wield and shape that tool, like Facebook and Google, are teaming up to help fight this ongoing epidemic in the best way they can.
Laws and simple policing are no longer really enough. Not only are there more people now to keep watch over, methods to circumvent those laws have also become more sophisticated. Just like any other tool, technology and the Internet have been used and abused to further the trade and abuse of substances and, naturally, social networks are one of those.
You could say that it’s about time that Facebook, Twitter, and Google realize the huge responsibility they have in their hands and the power they have to influence people, hopefully for the better. Led by the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies, the new Tech Together coalition are working to “lift up the good and defend against the bad”.
In a nutshell, this means that social networks and search engines will try to let you get help faster and shield you from illegal content. For example, searching for opioids on Facebook or Instagram won’t direct you to dealers. Instead, users will see the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline Information Page. And if Facebook’s “proactive detection” works, you won’t be seeing any of those bad pages since they violate Facebook’s ToS anyway.
To some extent, this is like what Facebook and other Internet giants have been doing for other “hot” areas, like child pornography, suicide, racism, and more. You could even wonder what took them so long to take action.