Zuckerberg Testimony: Should Facebook Be Stopping Opioid Trafficking?
Author: Justin Mckibben
This past Tuesday and Wednesday, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg found himself sitting in front of a tough crowd on Capitol Hill for 2 days of questioning that covered various topics about the social media empire. The testimony covered how Facebook influences politics, handles user data, and what steps are being taken to prevent abuse of the massive tech companies international platform.
During the testimony of Mark Zuckerberg, the topic came up of drug trafficking, specifically opioid sales, through Facebook.
Is Social Media Enabling Illegal Activity?
The line of questioning concerning opioids came from David McKinley. McKinely is the Republican Representative from West Virginia. On day two of the testimony, Mark Zuckerberg was grilled about opioid dealers abusing the social media space in order to distribute their drugs. During the conversation, McKinley states,
“Your platform is still being used to circumvent the law, and allow people to buy highly addictive drugs without a prescription,”
The Congressman went on to ask,
“With all due respect, Facebook is actually enabling an illegal activity and, in so doing, you are hurting people. Would you agree with that statement?”
“Congressman, I think that there are a number of areas of content that we need to do a better job of policing on our service. Today the primary way that content regulation works here … is that people can share what they want on the service, and then if someone sees an issue they flag it to us, and then we will review it.”
During McKinley’s comments, he actually shows Zuckerberg with images on a screen that opioids and other prescription narcotics are still actively being sold via Facebook. Later in McKinely’s statements he adds,
“That was just from yesterday. It’s still up. So my question to you is- when are you going to take down these posts that are done by illegal digital pharmacies?”
“Congressman, when people report the posts, we will take them down and have people review them.”
When the congressman continued to press Zuckerberg on Facebook taking responsibility for the posts made on the platform concerning illegal drugs, Zuckerberg replied,
“Congressman, I agree that this is a terrible issue and respectfully, when there are tens-of-billions or a hundred-billion pieces of content shared every day… even 20,000 people reviewing it can’t look at everything. What we need to do is build more AI tools that can proactively find that content.”
- AI referring to artificial intelligence.
This is not the first time critics have called out tech companies for falling short on policing illicit drug sales through their platforms.
In 2011, search-engine giant Google agreed to pay $500 million to the Department of Justice for showing prescription drug ads from Canadian online pharmacies to U.S. consumers. Only a week before Zuckerberg sat down to speak with Congress, the FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb had already called on social media platforms to root out and exterminate the online opioid trade. Gottlieb stated,
“We find offers to purchase opioids all over social media and the Internet, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Google, Yahoo, and Bing. But when it comes to opioids, we haven’t seen meaningful, voluntary actions.”
Some of the posts McKinely flagged to Facebook have already been taken down. However, McKinley still says that Facebook’s internal controls “don’t seem adequate” in regards to detecting and removing illegal drug posts.
Are Zuckerberg and Facebook Responsible?
The biggest theme- whether it came to Cambridge Analytica, censorship of political views, selling consumer data or illicit opioid marketing- was accountability.
The question throughout the testimony is- are Zuckerberg and Facebook responsible?
Some have argued that if Facebook intends to censor things like hate speech or political interference, then they should also be responsible for monitoring and shutting down any illegal activity happening on the website. Some people believe that if drug dealers are posting on social media, their posts should be automatically removed. That is a good goal. Others might even insist that Facebook should report these profiles to law enforcement to help investigate dealers and make more arrests.
But should Facebook be mandated and regulated to enforce these ideas? Moreover, should they be punished when people manage to cheat their system or slip through the cracks?
Many might argue Facebook should not be punished for the posts individuals make. One comparison might be that we do not prosecute cell-phone service providers when their products and services are used in illegal activity. And if we expect Facebook to thoroughly monitor all activity and report any suspicious behavior to the authorities, should cellular services be held to the same standard?
While private phone-calls are a far cry from public posts to the internet, what is the best way walk this line of privacy and security in the digital age?
Is it fair to say that Mark Zuckerberg is himself hurting people because his company is unable to police the hundreds of billions of posts made to their site every day? Or is it true that the company is slacking when it comes to addressing these issues promptly and effectively?
Social media is changing a lot of the way we communicate, and like any other advancement, it can be taken advantage of. One thing is certain; if we want to fight the opioid epidemic we have to put more research into prevention, and more focus and support into safe and effective treatment. Technology can impact drug use, but it can also connect people and help them get on the right path toward recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
The sports world was rattled yet again this week following the announcement from John Skipper, President of the world famous sports broadcasting network ESPN, of his resignation. Skipper cited his struggles with substance use and addiction as the reason for the statement, and it has brought to mind a few important factors that people often forget about addiction.
Skipper will also be resigning from the position of co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks.
Declaration from ESPN President
In his statement on Monday, Skipper states:
“Today I have resigned from my duties as President of ESPN. I have had a wonderful career at the Walt Disney Company and am grateful for the many opportunities and friendships. I owe a debt to many, but most profoundly Michael Lynton, George Bodenheimer and Bob Iger.
Skipper went on to say,
I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem,”
According to Skipper, he and the company came to a mutual agreement that it was appropriate for him to resign. He went on to state:
“I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down. As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding.”
Skipper has been the ESPN President since 2012, after joining the Disney-owned network back in 1997. According to Bob Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Company, former ESPN President George Bodenheimer will serve as Acting Chair of ESPN for 90 days until a more permanent replacement has been found.
Bob Iger made his own statement supporting Skipper’s decision and showing his respect for Skipper. Bodenheimer also issued a statement, saying:
“I have great respect for John’s leadership, and I applaud the courage he’s demonstrating by addressing his challenge head on. The most important thing right now for John and his family is that he conquers his addiction, and the entire ESPN family is behind him.”
As the transition takes place, many seem to be supporting the ESPN President in his choice to step down and face his addiction. Thus far there haven’t been many specifics as to which substances Skipper struggles with, which is consistent with his request for privacy.
Addiction for Professionals
This is far from the first time we have seen an issue with substance abuse come up in the world of professional sports. Even with coaches and owners, substance abuse is not as uncommon as some might think. Back in October the video of Miami Dolphins offensive line coach Christ Forester snorting lines of white powder surfaced online and created an overnight viral controversy. While the story with John Skipper may be a bit different, they both remind us that even high-profile professionals struggle with substance use and addiction.
Too many people still have this idea that addiction is about moral failures, or lack of willpower, or simply the lack of character and ambition. Yet, time and time again we see stories of incredibly talented, successful, ambitious and influential people struggling with addiction. And it isn’t just rock stars and celebrity actors; we also see it in CEOs and high-ranking business people. We see it in star athletes and in politicians. Every level of success experiences the impact of addiction.
So it is sad to see Skipper say he is embarrassed to have to make this announcement. Even though he is brave to do it, it reminds us also of the stigma even he still might believe.
So we have to support those who are struggling and stop letting the stigma of addiction keep people from getting better by seeking the help that may ultimately save their lives.
The business owner or high earner might not seek help because of how they think people will see them. They might be afraid that being vulnerable will have others question their business. How will this reflect on my work? How will it reflect on my company? Will it destroy my professional reputation to get the help I need?
These are questions no one should ever have to ask.
Functioning Addicts Suffer
Many professionals might even consider themselves to be “functioning addicts,” meaning that even though they are in the grips of addiction physically, mentally and emotionally, they are still able to go on working, going to school or being active at home.
Again, this is a strong example that goes against the stigma people often associate with addiction. Too many people assume that for someone to be truly struggling with addiction, they have to lose their house, job, family, etc. But in reality, people with addiction can be fully-functioning members of society. Addicts can be excellent at their jobs, active in their families or communities, and even take good care of themselves in all respects other than using drugs or alcohol.
However, functioning addicts still suffer greatly. Often this manifests with internal suffering, mental and emotional. They don’t always “hit rock bottom” in the sense of their career, finances or home life. Sometimes it is everything going on inside that causes them the most turmoil.
Sadly, functioning addicts are also less likely to seek the help they need. They will believe that as long as they are working, taking care of the bills and not getting into much trouble, they are still in control. They are more likely to have people around them who do not understand addiction telling them their issues are not that serious. There is no telling how long ESPN President John Skipper was living as a functioning addict. The same goes for many professionals who have been struggling and are afraid that if they admit they need help, they will lose it all.
Addiction does not discriminate. It does not care what your net worth is. It never checks your credit score and it never asks for a resume.
Times are Changing
Luckily, over the past few years, the perception of addiction has begun to experience a cultural shift. Those who struggle with substance use and addiction now have more options for getting help. There are a variety of personalized treatment programs that offer effective and supportive solutions while encouraging people across all demographics to stay informed and seek help.
These days we see more celebrities, athletes, and professionals reaching out, getting help and speaking up about the dangers of addiction. The ESPN President is one of many public figures this year who has spoken up about the problems they have faced and reminded us how important it is to find help.
It is great to be reminded that times are indeed changing and that the stigma of addiction doesn’t have as much power as it once did. While there are still plenty of people across the world who still rely on these old ideas about addiction, much more are learning to better understand addiction and helping support those who need help.
Hopefully, with professionals from such high platforms stepping up to talk about their struggles, we will continue to see more executives, officials and business owners get the help they need.
Addiction is not one-size-fits-all, and neither is recovery. Palm Partners Recovery Center believes in supporting each individual through a personalized recovery plan to help them find an effective path. We want to help people who suffer get back to what matters most. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
This Monday Christ Forester, the offensive line coach from the Miami Dolphins, resigned from his position after 25 years in the NFL. Forester was one of the highest paid assistants in the league, even though he only became a Dolphins coach a year ago. His recent departure from the coaching staff comes only 12 hours after a video of him snorting a white powdery substance off an office desk went viral.
So what does this recent scandal tell us about drug abuse?
A Social Media Scandal
The 56-second video shows Forester himself appears to be filming while speaking into the camera. During the course of the video Forester states:
“Hey baby, miss you, thinking about you,” he says to the camera. He says he is about to go into a meeting and is “doing this before I go.”
Kijuana Nige, a Las Vegas model, first posted the video on Sunday to Facebook. It has since been deleted. At one point on the post to the social media site, Nige had stated people were upset with her actions “like I forced blown down this man’s nose” with the term “blow” being commonly known as slang for the illegal drug cocaine.
Screen-captured images of a post on Twitter with pictures from the video also show Nige stating:
“Those are his habits and he recorded himself and sent it to me professing his love.”
Kijuana Nige also claims that she used to date the Dolphins coach, and sources indicate the video was recorded sometime this year.
The Football Fall-Out
Other parts of the caption in the comments take on a more political tone, as Nige talks about posting the video and exposing the Dolphins coach as a way to respond to the backlash against black NFL players who are participating in protests of police brutality on the sidelines of football games.
The video was posted the same day that it was reported the Dolphins head coach Adam Gase has made it a team rule that players are required to stand for the Anthem. Apparently, players who do not wish to stand for the National Anthem on the Dolphins team must stay in the tunnel during the ceremony.
In her social media crusade, Nige has also implied that she has other videos she could make public. She states:
“They better leave ppl (people) like Colin Kaepernick alone before I pick off more of’ em”
Of course, this refers to the 49ers former quarterback who was the first player to take a knee and vocalize his reasons for protesting.
Following the growing controversy of the viral video, the Dolphins coach made a statement saying,
“I am resigning from my position with the Miami Dolphins and accept full responsibility for my actions,”…”I want to apologize to the organization and my sole focus is on getting the help that I need with the support of my family and medical professionals.”
The Dolphins also made a public statement that included:
“We were made aware of the video late last night and have no tolerance for this behavior.”
“Although Chris is no longer with the organization, we will work with him to get the help he needs during this time.”
While the Dolphins made it clear that they had accepted Foresters resignation immediately, they still say are going to support Forester in getting help, which may mean some addiction treatment or other recovery resources.
Exposing Drug Abuse
Of course, this isn’t the first time some form of public figure in the sports world has been exposed for drug use. Even coaches in high school, college or professional sports have been caught from time to time in some kind of drug scandal. In some cases, it is performance enhancing. Other times it is the recreational use of illicit drugs.
However, this is the only time (at least that I have ever heard of) that a viral video has shown an NFL coach in the act of consuming drugs. So it is a unique case.
Yet, when drug abuse is exposed in the media it actually reveals the best and the worst of our reactions to issues concerning drug abuse and addiction. Some people will immediately begin to demonize the individual. But the better side we get to see is that at least the Dolphins franchise has said they will support his efforts to get help. In a way, a story like this points again to the very real fact that anyone can struggle with drug abuse. Celebrities, decorated athletes, and even extremely successful professionals can struggle with substance use.
If we can accept an NFL coach has made a mistake but is willing to step down and get help, maybe we can show more compassion to those around us who need help; maybe we need to have more compassion for ourselves. Either way, instead of stirring up more contention and controversy let us support those who need a way out.
In recovery from drug abuse and addiction, we are all on the same team. It’s easy to see how substance abuse affects more than the average individual. Even celebrities and professionals can get caught in the grips. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
A few weeks ago, my sister told me about an upcoming concert that would celebrate popular acts such as DMX and several others. The event was called the “Ruff Ryders and Friends – Reunion Tour – Past, Present and Future” and would be in Miami on September 7th.
Tickets were cheap so I figured why not. I opened my computer and prepared to purchase the tickets for the show until I read the letters in red: “Canceled.” This was certainly not what I had hoped for.
Why did the show get canceled?
In fact, why did the entire tour get canceled? I could not believe my eyes as I glanced over the list of cancellations. Cancelling an entire tour is practically unheard of. What happened? Sadly, the answer involves drug addiction.
After some careful searching, I discovered a TMZ article which reported back in April that DMX had to cancel his shows due to an “unspecified medical issue.” Sources at a Los Angeles show state the rapper had been drinking heavily.
His history with substance abuse is not anything surprising. In the past, the rapper was open about his journey to addiction recovery. Therefore, when news of his drinking spread, relapse concerns heightened.
It turns out DMX has reportedly sought treatment for drug addiction. Addiction treatment reports surfaced a couple weeks after the rapper was put on house arrest for violating bail conditions.
According to speculations, the 46-year old is undergoing treatment in the Nashua, New Hampshire area or is living in a sober home. The Nashua Telegraph reported that DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, was spotted at a local Buffalo Wild Wings, a Shaw’s supermarket, and a Walmart.
Along with addiction troubles, Simmons is facing charges that he allegedly owes $1.7 million in back taxes dating back to 2000. He has pleaded not guilty to these charges and was freed on $500,000 bail, according to Billboard. Still, while he was on bail, the rapper failed drug test four times. These test found cocaine, opiates, and pot in his system. Because of these results, Manhattan Federal Judge Jed Rakoff put him under house confinement on August 11.
During the hearing, the judge stated that Simmons had violated bail “probably more times than I can remember,” according to Court House News. He chose not to send the rapper to jail, although he described Simmons’s drug addiction as “gross.” He said that his past run-ins with the law exemplified that he’s had “more than a passing acquaintance with illegal drugs.”
After that hearing, DMX told a reporter, “When God is for you, who can be against you?”
The judge reportedly lifted Simmons’s house arrest on the condition that he enter a sober program and travel with a sober coach around the clock. According to court documents reviewed by TMZ, the rapper would need permission to leave New York State.
According to his lawyer Murray Richman, the rapper has decided to go to rehab on his own.
“This is a voluntary move on his part,” Richman said.
It is clear that DMX has struggled on and off with drug addiction. We wish him the best as he seeks a life free from the grips of substance abuse. Recovery is possible, and it is the answer out of this cycle. If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol dependency, please call now. We are here to help. Do not wait.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
Have you ever wondered what jobs have the highest suicide rates?
It’s been estimated that the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. Where you work plays a role on your mental health. Therefore, if you detest your job, it’s going to impact your mental health negatively.
Here are some CRAZY fast facts about work:
- Marriages in which one partner spends 10+ hours more than average at work divorce at twice the average rate
- 25% of employees say work is their main source of stress
- 40% say their job is “very or extremely stressful”
- More than 13 million working days are lost every year because of stress-related illnesses.
- The average American spends over 100 hours commuting
- Japan has a word for “working to death” called Karoshi. In Japan, 10,000 workers per year drop dead at their desks as a result of working excessively.
- A report from 2010 noted that half of Americans canceled their vacation plans to work.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are far more suicides seen in certain professions than others.
Can you guess which jobs have the highest rate of suicide?
Believe it or not, the occupation with the highest suicide rates are farmers, lumberjacks, and fisherman. These workers commit suicide at the highest rate, according to the broad federal study.
This CDC report is conceivably the largest U.S study to compare suicide rates among occupations. However, the results are not comprehensive. The study covers 17 states, looking at about 12,300 of the more than 40,000 suicide deaths reported throughout the nation in 2012.
One of the authors of the study, Wendy McIntosh, points to the main takeaway from the study:
“Knowing suicide rates by occupation provides employers and other prevention professionals with an opportunity to focus on suicide prevention programs and messages.”
Overall, studies like this can help guide employers to develop better strategies to improve mental health in the workforce and lower rates of suicide. These plans include providing assistance and workplace programs in place to help managers, and another staff recognizes warning signs.
Because of the limited data, they could only calculate suicide rates for broad occupation categories, not for specific jobs. Therefore, the occupational categories are grouped together, sometimes awkwardly like for the category “athletes and artists.”
Regardless, there are some beneficial insights from this study that can help future employees and employers. For example, jobs that have increase isolation and stress result in higher stress levels and higher suicide rates.
“Occupational groups with higher suicide rates might be at risk for a number of reasons, including job-related isolation and demands, stressful work environments, and work-home imbalance, as well as socioeconomic inequities, including lower income, lower education level, and lack of access to health services,” the CDC said in the report. “Previous research suggests that farmers’ chronic exposure to pesticides might affect the neurologic system and contribute to depressive symptoms.”
Wondering what other jobs have the highest rate of suicide? Let’s take a look.
These 10 occupations have the highest rate of suicide, according to the CDC:
- Farmworkers, fishermen, lumberjacks, others in forestry or agriculture (85 suicides per 100,000)
- Carpenters, miners, electricians, construction trades (53)
- Mechanics and those who do installation, maintenance, repair (48)
- Factory and production workers (35)
- Architects, engineers (32)
- Police, firefighters, corrections workers, others in protective services (31)
- Artists, designers, entertainers, athletes, media (24)
- Computer programmers, mathematicians, statisticians (23)
- Transportation workers (22)
- Corporate executives and managers, advertising and public relations (20)
Is your job on the list? If not, your job might have been in the top 15 or top 25. Some jobs that were close runner-ups were lawyers, doctors, scientists, and accountants.
We spend a HUGE amount of our time at work. Suicide is not anything to take lightly. Therefore, it is important to make our mental health our priority along with our career. If you feel overwhelmed at work, please remember to make yourself a priority. If you are struggling with mental illness or addiction, please call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135