April 14, 2024


shadows in front of Facebook logo

Meta is reportedly under investigation for its platforms’ potential role in facilitating sales of illegal drugs.
Image: Dado Ruvic (Reuters)

Facebook parent company Meta is being investigated by federal authorities, according to a new report, a probe that focuses on whether Meta’s platforms facilitate sales of illegal drugs.

The Wall Street Journal, citing documents and unnamed sources familiar with the investigation, reports that federal prosecutors in Virginia have issued subpoenas in connection with a criminal grand jury probe. The Journal reports that the subpoenas, which were served last year, request records related to “violative drug content on Meta’s platforms and/or the illicit sale of drugs via Meta’s platforms.”

A Meta spokesman told The Journal that “the sale of illicit drugs is against our policies and we work to find and remove this content from our services.”

“Meta proactively cooperates with law enforcement authorities to help combat the sale and distribution of illicit drugs,” the spokesman added.

The company owns Facebook and Instagram.

More from The Journal:

Meta has enlisted outside entities to screen advertisers and content that might violate rules regarding the promotion and sale of drugs. A company called LegitScript helps determine which companies can advertise and promote prescription medication on its platforms. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham had a partnership with Facebook to help flag problematic content related to drug sales. A spokeswoman for the university said it isn’t a current service provider for Meta.

Social-media companies have recently come under scrutiny from members of Congress for content that has harmed young people, particularly children.

Lawmakers have been discussing the need to hold the technology companies responsible for what third parties post on their platforms. Efforts to do so have been complicated by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which says that online platforms aren’t liable for what third parties post, with a few exceptions. The Supreme Court left core elements of Section 230 unchanged after deciding on two cases involving the law in 2023.

Meta stock was down slightly over the course of the last week but is up almost 40% so far this year.



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