Josh Hawley to Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook Must Stop ‘Aiding and Abetting the Drug Overdose Epidemic’

Carolyn Kaster-Pool/Getty Images

Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) has written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demanding that he respond to an investigation that claimed that drug dealers are openly selling illegal drugs including opioids on Instagram. Hawley wrote that “It is unconscionable that any company would aid and abet this epidemic of death and despair.”

This week Sen. Josh Hawley sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demanding a response from the tech giant CEO to a recent investigation that found that drug dealers are operating openly selling opioids and other drugs on the Facebook-owned Instagram platform.

Mark Zuckerberg discusses Instagram

Mark Zuckerberg discusses Instagram (AFP/Getty)

This illustration image shows tablets of opioid painkiller Oxycodon delivered on medical prescription taken on September 18, 2019 in Washington,DC. - Millions of Americans sank into addiction after using potent opioid painkillers that the companies churned out and doctors freely prescribed over the past two decades. Well over 400,000 people died of opioid overdoses in that period, while the companies involved raked in billions of dollars in profits. And while the flood of prescription opioids into the black market has now been curtailed, addicts are turning to heroin and highly potent fentanyl to compensate, where the risk of overdose and death is even higher. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Tablets of opioid painkiller Oxycodone  (ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Hawley wrote:

The findings of the report are horrifying, especially as our nation confronts a drug overdose epidemic of historic proportions and an alarming deterioration of teenagers’ mental health precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic and misguided mitigation measures to it. According to provisional data from the National Center for Health Statistics released in November, more than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in the 12-month period between May 2020 and April 2021—a record high and a 30 percent increase over the previous year…

It is unconscionable that any company would aid and abet this epidemic of death and despair. Unfortunately, given Instagram’s blatant disregard for the mental health of its young users, the findings from TPP’s investigation are not shocking.

Hawley demanded that Zuckerberg provide an explanation of the measures and protocols put in place by Instagram to track and remove these drug dealing accounts. Hawley further requested information on whether Instagram had collaborated with law enforcement officials to crack down on the issue.

Hawley asked that Instagram answer the following questions by January 31, 2022:

  1. Instagram’s Community Guidelines state that the “buying or selling non-medical or pharmaceutical drugs are…not allowed.”[6] What steps has Instagram taken to prevent the sale of illicit and prescription drugs on your platform?
  2. What protocols does Instagram have for the removal of accounts selling drugs? How many accounts have been removed for violations?
  3. Does Instagram currently partner with law enforcement when dealing with accounts selling drugs? If so, what does this partnership entail? If not, does your company plan to begin doing so?

Read Hawley’s full letter here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at


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