LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge in California has given the green light for a lawsuit linking fentanyl overdoses to the social media app Snapchat to proceed. The lawsuit alleges that the platform facilitated the sale of illegal drugs. One of the plaintiffs, Kim Osterman, lost her son in 2021 after he contacted a drug dealer through Snapchat and purchased a fentanyl-laced pill instead of the intended Percocet. Osterman is among many families in Colorado who have experienced the devastating loss of a loved one due to fentanyl-laced pills.
Since the lawsuit was filed in October 2022, more than 60 families have come forward with similar allegations of obtaining fatal drugs through Snapchat. Osterman sees the judge’s ruling as a positive step towards holding Snapchat accountable and urging the company to prioritize the safety of its users.
Snapchat is known for features such as “Snap Map” which shows users’ locations and “My Eyes Only” which allows messages to disappear. The lawsuit claims that these features enabled and facilitated the illegal sale of counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl to minors and young adults. It further alleges that Snapchat’s product design created an environment where a “Snapchat Drug Cartel” operated, resulting in the deaths of nine individuals in multiple states.
Snapchat has argued that it should not be held responsible for the actions of its users and emphasized its efforts to identify and shut down drug dealers on its platform. The company stated that it is committed to combatting the fentanyl epidemic and educating the community about its dangers.
Osterman believes that Snapchat should be held accountable and calls for the implementation of parental control features on the platform. Families affected by fentanyl-related deaths hope that the ruling will compel Snapchat to disclose information about its algorithms and potential risks.
This ruling sets a precedent that could impact future lawsuits against social media companies. However, no trial date has been set yet.
In summary, a California judge has allowed a lawsuit linking fentanyl overdoses to Snapchat to proceed. The lawsuit alleges that Snapchat’s features enabled the sale of lethal drugs and created an environment conducive to drug-related fatalities. The ruling paves the way for further examination of Snapchat’s role in facilitating illegal drug sales, but a trial date has yet to be determined.