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Snapchat developing parental controls to limit friend suggestions for teens, says steps to combat illegal drug sales

The feature is designed to protect users between 13 and 17 years and is part of the company’s moves to combat fentanyl and drug-related content.

Snapchat explained that it had added the new safeguard feature to Quick Add that suggests friends on the app. (Reuters)
Snapchat explained that it had added the new safeguard feature to Quick Add that suggests friends on the app. (Reuters)

A new set of parental controls to help limit how users contact minors on Snapchat is in development, the company has announced. Snapchat said the controls would restrict its Quick Add feature to limit adult strangers from adding minors as friends on the app.

The feature is designed to protect users between 13 and 17 years and is part of the company’s moves to combat fentanyl and drug-related content. Snapchat also said it had been working on improving systems to detect drug-related content and assisting law enforcement agencies in their probes.

“…we have absolutely zero tolerance for drug dealing on Snapchat,” Snapchat said in a blog post on Tuesday.

“We are continuing to develop new measures to keep our community safe on Snapchat, and have made significant operational improvements over the past year toward our goal of eradicating drug dealers from our platform.”

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Snapchat explained that it had added the new safeguard feature to Quick Add that suggests friends on the app. Adult strangers will see a minor’s profile in Quick Add only if they have a certain number of common friends in common.

Snapchat said its measures were aimed to combat the “fentanyl epidemic”, adding: “In the coming months, we will be sharing more details about the new parental tools we are developing, with the goal of giving parents more insight into who their teens are talking to on Snapchat, while still respecting their privacy.”

Snapchat and other messaging services have been in the eye of the storm amid a spate of the accidental deaths of several US teenagers due to fentanyl-filled pills sold online.

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Snapchat said proactive detection rates for drug-related content were up 390%, while 88% of all drug-related content was now proactively detected using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Snapchat’s law enforcement team has grown 74% to preserve and disclose data for requests from enforcement agencies. 

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