The parents of a 16-year-old boy who died from a drug overdose have started a petition calling on social media apps like TikTok and Snapchat to change their policies.
Dr. Samuel Chapman and her husband Laura Berman have secured more than 32,000 signatures on the petition requesting TikTok, Snapchat and Discord, specifically, to allow parents to control their kids' activity on the apps through third-party safety apps like Bark.
Bark uses algorithms to alert parents when it detects potential risks on kids' social media activity on app that allow its software including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which are popular among young users.
Our petition and the law we're pushing with Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's leadership is to require any social media or gaming platform that has minors on it to allow parent tracking software, said Chapman. What we ask is: As long as this is toxic, let us keep it in our families until the children know that we're monitoring it.
A drug dealer approached Chapman's son, Sammy, on Snapchat and offered to buy him fentanyl, which Chapman and Berman later discovered was illegally manufactured.
The dealer shared a colorful advert on Snapchat showing the types of drugs he was selling.
However, it goes on and drugs are going on, and it is beyond the pale and what is really important to notice now that in fentanyl over the border, the volume of this problem is blowing up, and I mean in the last three months. So whatever problems Snapchat has it's going to be quadrupled over the next 12 months.
He added that apps need parents to protect their kids, otherwise they will face significant legal challenges.
In a statement, a Snapchat spokesperson said that the company strictly enforces drug-related activity on the platform and actively cooperates with police in their investigations.
We look forward to be as proactive as possible in preventing, detecting and fighting this type of abuse, and are continually improving our abilities in this area, the spokesperson said. We stand behind those who are raising awareness on the dangers of fentanyl pills and are committed to being a partner in these efforts.
The spokesperson added that Snapchat is working to improve its moderators and tools, which flag drug-related content and wording.
Fentanyl, an opioid pain treatment, is between 50 and 100 times stronger than morphine.
The preliminary estimates of overdose deaths published in April showed nearly 90,000 such deaths in the year ending September, 220 more than the year prior. This toll is the highest number of overdose deaths reported in a year since it began in the 1990s, before
Nationally, the CDC has attributed the nationwide increase in overdose deaths to transient disruptions of daily life caused by the pandemic as well as street formulations laced with fentanyl.
Some reports suggest that the seizures of the deadly drug have soared in recent months with confiscations already exceeding the entire FY 2020 fiscal year, according to Customs and Border Protection — the latest sign of the continued crisis at the southern border.
My beautiful boy is gone. 16 years old. From home, Berman wrote in a new Instagram post on February after her son's death. A drug dealer connected with him on Snapchat and gave him fentanyl-laced Xanax or Percocet and he overdosed in his room.
She continued my heart is completely shattered and I am not sure how to be patient. I post this only now so that not one parent dies. We watched him so closely. Straight A student. Getting ready for college. Experimentation - gone bad. He got drugs delivered to his house. Please watch your kids and SNAPCHAT especially WATCH! What's the fastest way to get them?
Chapman and Berman attended a rally outside the Snapchat headquarters in Santa Monica, California, on Saturday with other parents who have lost children to illegal drugs sold via Snapchat. The rally was organized according to a press release by the Alexander Neville Foundation, the Association of People Against Lethal Drugs drug-induced homicide and other parents.
The father met with CEO Evan Spiegel on Saturday in New York but told Fox 11 Los Angeles they did not understand the sense that Evan Spiegel was so supportive of ideas to combat the issue on the platform.
Devin Chapman said that aside from that meeting, he has received only word of what companies are doing to stop the issue from press releases since his son died in February.
He continued, they use excuses like privacy and the functionality of their operating systems as their reasoning behind not using parental controls or partner apps like Bark.
Kayla Rivas and Frank Miles contributed to this report for Fox News.