Facebook pulls posts regarding drug sales

WASHINGTON — Facebook tweeted drug sales are “strictly prohibited” and thanked a U.S. representative from West Virginia who questioned its founder about opioid ads on the social media company.

Rep. David McKinley, R-1st, questioned Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week during a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Congress has been investigating the company after revelations that Cambridge Analytica acquired personal information of millions of people to impact the 2016 election for U.S. president and the vote to pull out of the European Union in England.

McKinley asked Zuckerberg about illegal online pharmacies using Facebook to sell opiods.

“Drug sales are strictly prohibited on Facebook,” the Facebook tweet said. “The posts you flag violate our policies and are no longer available. Thank you @RepMcKinley. We are working to get faster at detecting violating content.”

McKinley said the Facebook ads came up during many round tables and hearings on the opioid epidemic.

“We know that drug dealers, doctors and pharmacists running pill mills and distributors in the pharmaceutical industry are responsible for the scourge of the opioid epidemic, but when it was brought to our attention that these drugs are being sold on Facebook, we needed to take steps to address it,” McKinley said on Friday. “This won’t solve the whole problem, but it is a step in the right direction.”

While it is encouraging Facebook took down the ads after they were identified, “we recognize that they can’t manually catch every occurrence of drugs being listed for sale,” McKinley said.

“Facebook has been extremely successful in developing tools and algorithms to stop certain types of content from being pushed on the site, and we’re hopeful they will do the same to stop the sale of drugs,” McKinley said.

Congress will take further action to combat the epidemic and hold hearings with major drug distributors “to hold them accountable for the millions of pills they’ve recklessly shipped into our communities,” he said. Legislation giving states resources for treatment and prevention also is planned, McKinley said.