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The Opioid Crisis

Facebook starts blocking drug hashtags on Instagram

A search on Instagram on Sunday revealed that parent company Facebook has limited search results for images with drug-related hashtags.

A search of Instagram on Sunday revealed that parent company Facebook has begun blocking certain drug-related hashtags on the social network.

While searches for the phrase ‘oxycontin’ didn’t turn up any images on Sunday, the phrase generated more than 30,000 posts last week alone, according to CNN.

However, searches for the words “xanax” and “fentanyl” continued to return a relatively small number of images while hiding others.

It comes after the FDA said illegal drug dealers are using social media sites to connect with opioid buyers, fueling the nation’s overdose epidemic.

A search on Instagram on Sunday revealed that parent company Facebook has limited search results for images with drug-related hashtags.

A search on Instagram on Sunday revealed that parent company Facebook has limited search results for images with drug-related hashtags.

While searches for the phrase

While searches for the phrase “oxycontin” didn’t turn up any images on Sunday, the phrase generated more than 30,000 posts last week alone

Overall, emergency department visits for suspected opioid overdoses increased 30 percent in the U.S. from July 2016 to September 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC does not yet have data on opioid overdose deaths for 2017, but the government agency said there were 42,000 deaths from the national epidemic in 2016, more opioid overdose deaths than in any other year on record.

It is also double the number of deaths recorded in 2010, which was 21,000.

The data prompted the surgeon general to issue a warning that more people should carry naloxone, an FDA-approved drug that “can temporarily suspend the effects of [an opioid] overdose until emergency services arrive.”

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“It’s time to ensure more people have access to these life-saving drugs, as 77 percent of opioid overdose deaths occur outside of a medical setting and more than half occur at home,” said Surgeon General Sylvia Trent-Adams.

“Every day, we lose 115 Americans to opioid overdoses — that’s one person every 12.5 minutes,” she added.

Social networks like Facebook and Instagram have struggled with their role in this.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before Congress on April 11 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on other matters.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before Congress on April 11 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on other matters.

On Instagram, many of the photos that previously appeared when users searched for terms like “fentanyl” and “oxycontin” also contained contact information, suggesting the drugs depicted were available for purchase and sales negotiations could be conducted off the site.

“Instagram has allowed this to happen to the point where no one is hiding it,” said tech entrepreneur Eileen Carey.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb echoed her sentiments in a speech at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, the text of which was made available to the FDA on Wednesday.

“I am concerned that social media companies, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that host websites, and others in the Internet ecosystem have not been proactive enough in rooting out these illegal opioid distribution offerings from their respective platforms. I think we can work with them and do a lot more to address this public health hazard.”

Carey, who is the CEO of a technology company that allows other companies to connect employees with peer mentors from within their own organizations, had spent years, she said, reporting this type of content without much response from the platform until last week. .

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Facebook executives finally responded to Carey’s calls to action via Twitter this week, leading Wired to bill her as “the only woman” on Friday. [who] got Facebook to police opiate sales on Instagram.”

But while celebrating the removal of posts that appeared under the search term “oxycontin,” Carey was quick to point out that images still remain for photos tagged with other types of opioids.

Below the images that still appeared in the limited set of results was a note explaining why some posts containing the hashtag were no longer listed

Below the images that still appeared in the limited set of results was a note explaining why some posts containing the hashtag were no longer listed

Below the images that still appeared in the limited set of results was a note explaining why some posts containing the hashtag were no longer listed

Below the images that still appeared in the limited set of results, a note explained why some posts containing the hashtag were no longer included.

“Recent posts related to #xanax are now hidden because the community reported content that may have violated Instagram’s Community Guidelines,” the statement read.

A similar message appeared at the bottom of the results after searching for “fentanyl.”

An Instagram spokesperson said in a statement that community guidelines “make it clear that buying or selling prescription drugs is not allowed on Instagram, and we have zero tolerance for content that threatens the safety of our community.”

DailyMail.com reached out to Facebook via email to ask whether posts containing drug-related hashtags were being pulled or simply blocked from appearing on the app’s search portal.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facebook has also come under fire recently for its transparency, or lack thereof, when it comes to user data protection practices.

Critics are calling for change from the social media giant following revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a British firm hired by President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign team, had access to information from more than 87 million Facebook profiles.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before Congress on April 11 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on this and other issues.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline.1-800-662-HELP (4357), is a confidential, toll-free, 24-hour, 365-day-a-year, information service in English and Spanish for individuals and family members facing and/or substance use disorders

Zuckerberg is seen here speaking during an Oculus Connect 4 launch event in San Jose, California on October 11, 2017

Zuckerberg is seen here speaking during an Oculus Connect 4 launch event in San Jose, California on October 11, 2017

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