Facebook is using AI to identify potential drug dealers


Facebook is using AI-powered 'proactive detection' to identify drug-related images before they're seen or reported by users. It hopes that this will make the site less useful to dealers.

"Our technology is able to detect content that includes images of drugs and depicts the intent to sell with information such as price, phone numbers or usernames for other social media accounts," explained Kevin Martin, head of US public policy at Facebook. 

Martin says that using AI to find these images means human moderators have more time for trickier tasks like identifying trends in drug sales, and finding pages, groups and hashtags related to drug use.

Tackling the opioid crisis

Facebook has also joined Twitter and Google to form a coalition called Tech Together to Fight the Opioid Crisis, which aims to share the best ways to fight opioid addiction.

Representatives from the three companies will meet in Washington DC to speak with experts and specialist organizations working in the fields of addiction prevention, treatment and recovery.

It's estimated that over two million people in the US are dependent on opioids (both legally prescribed and illegal), and over 49,000 US citizens died as a result of overdosing on the drugs last year.

"Facebook services allow friends, families and support networks to help one another through challenging times, making it easier for people who are struggling with addiction or helping loved ones in this battle get the resources they need," said Martin.

"We look forward to our new industry alliance and finding ways to increase our impact through collaboration and supporting the important work of our partners."

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)