GOP rep grills Zuckerberg on opioid sales on Facebook

GOP rep grills Zuckerberg on opioid sales on Facebook
© Greg Nash

Rep. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleySuper PACs spend big in high-stakes midterms Twitter chief faces GOP anger over bias at hearing Live coverage: Social media execs face grilling on Capitol Hill MORE (R-W.Va.) grilled Facebook founder and CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFight looms over national privacy law Facebook teaming with nonprofits to fight fake election news China may be copying Facebook to build an intelligence weapon MORE on Wednesday over opioid dealers using the social media giant to distribute drugs, saying the platform was hurting its users. 

"Your platform is still being used to circumvent the law, and allow people to buy highly addictive drugs without a prescription," McKinley told Zuckerberg during the tech leader's second day of testimony on Capitol Hill. 

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"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?" the congressman asked.

"I think that there are a number of areas of content that we need to do a better job policing on our service," Zuckerberg replied. 

"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," he continued. 

McKinley went on to ask Zuckerberg why Facebook had not taken down posts for opioid markets on the website. 

"When are you going to take down these posts that are done with illegal, digital pharmacies?" the congressman said. 

"Right now when people report the posts to us, we will take them down and have people review," Zuckerberg said. 

"I agree that this is a terrible issue, and respectfully, when there are tens of billion pieces of content that are shared every day, even 20,000 people reviewing it can't look at everything," he continued. 

The exchange comes a week after Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called on social media platforms to eliminate the online opioid trade. 

“We find offers to purchase opioids all over social media and the Internet, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Google, Yahoo, and Bing,” Gottlieb said. “But when it comes to opioids, we haven’t seen meaningful, voluntary actions.”