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Oakland Personal Injury Lawyer / Blog / Personal Injury / Snapchat Implicated Sued for Wrongful Death After Being Implicated in Fentanyl Overdoses by Teenagers

Snapchat Implicated Sued for Wrongful Death After Being Implicated in Fentanyl Overdoses by Teenagers


There has been a spate of lawsuits across the U.S. attempting to hold social media companies responsible for everything from teen suicide to fentanyl overdoses. Many of these lawsuits face uncertain futures as current law tends to prevent social media companies from being held responsible for third-party content. However, the plaintiffs won a recent lawsuit in the U.K. which held Facebook liable for the suicide of a teen girl who was relentlessly exposed to bleak content directly before her suicide.

Most recently, Snap, Inc. which owns the popular social media app, Snapchat, has been implicated in a startling number of fentanyl overdoses by teenagers across the U.S. Wrongful death lawsuits have been filed by the parents of 11 young people who purchased fentanyl from drug dealers they allegedly met over the Snapchat platform. All but one of these teenagers died.

The plaintiffs say that Snapchat has become a haven for drug trafficking and that Snapchat regularly recommends drug advertisements to minors.

The plaintiffs contend that despite the fact that Snapchat is relatively small compared to other social media platforms such as Facebook and X, it has become the go-to means to distribute drugs to children, teens, and young adults. The plaintiffs contend that Snapchat is involved in a “far greater number” of fentanyl overdose deaths than other social media platforms.

All of the lawsuits are being handled by the Social Media Victims Law Center and are being heard by the same judge.

Why is Snapchat useful to drug dealers?

 Snapchat has (according to its own estimates) 100 million daily users in North America. While far smaller than platforms such as Facebook and TikTok, it has one feature that is especially useful to drug dealers. Unlike Facebook, where posts remain visible forever, Snapchat posts and stories disappear after 24 hours. The plaintiffs contend that Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging features, which automatically deletes posts after 24 hours, “has become a popular tool for drug dealers to facilitate sales.” Because the messages disappear after a short period of time, law enforcement cannot track down evidence of illegal activity.

The plaintiffs

 The lead plaintiffs in the case against Snapchat are the parents of a 14-year-old boy who lived in Orange County, California. The boy died of a fentanyl overdose after buying a pill from a dealer named “Aj Smokxy”. Even after the boy’s death was made public, Snapchat permitted the account to remain active for nearly a year after. The account was allegedly linked to two more deaths, the complaint asserts.

Snap attempted to claim immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This law shields social media platforms from liability stemming from the conduct of third-party contributors such as users and advertisers. However, a California judge ruled in that case that Snap could not claim immunity for these allegations.

Talk to an Oakland, CA Wrongful Death Attorney Today 

Venardi Zurada represents the interests of grieving families in wrongful death lawsuits filed against negligent or malicious defendants. Call our Oakland personal injury attorneys today to schedule a free consultation, and we can begin investigating your case right away.



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