Following the loss of my younger brother, Taylor, who made an uneducated decision to begin using anabolic steroids when he was in high school, our family formed the Taylor Hooton Foundation. Our mission is to enlighten the world to the truths about Appearance and Performance Enhancing Substances. To accomplish this mission we teach students and their adult influencers about the dangers of these drugs through our education programs, podcast, website and other media outlets.
To date, our ALL ME® Assembly Programs have directly impacted over two-million lives, but there is still so much work that needs to be done. One of our key focuses has been to make the public aware that illegal drugs are being sold online and the drug dealers have now entered into the four walls of their homes.
For many years, the Taylor Hooton Foundation has been very vocal about the sale of illegal anabolic steroids on some of the world’s most popular social media sites, e.g., Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Recently we saw Frances Haugen, a former data scientist at Facebook, step forward as a whistleblower and pull back the curtain as to what is really going on within that platform. One of the things we already knew, but were reminded by her, is how Facebook uses algorithms designed to target their users’ interests and interactions. Why is this important?
Following a report that we did with the Coalition for a Safer Web and Digital Citizens Alliance (titled “Digital Platforms on Steroids: How Facebook and Google Enable the Sale of Illegal Appearance and Performance Enhancing Drugs”), we learned how easy it is for our young people to obtain illegal anabolic steroids on their favorite social media sites. The drug dealers have now moved from a dark street corner into the comfort of our homes.
These algorithms that Facebook is using are now targeting our kids with ads for the sale of anabolic steroids. The dealers are now searching out our kids with paid ads for these drugs online using Facebook’s algorithms. And it needs to stop. What is it going to take for the leadership in this country to step up and do something to protect our young kids?
A critical step in this process is to make changes to CDA Section 230 that prevents any of these social media platforms from being held liable for what is on their site. These companies must be held accountable for what is being put on their platforms, especially if they’re generating ad revenue from companies peddling illegal drugs.
Making our voices heard so that these social media companies will clean up their sites from the sale of illegal drugs isn’t a task that the Taylor Hooton Foundation can do alone. It’s going to take a community effort to get our government to pass updated legislation that would change CDA Section 230 so that these companies no longer have immunity from what goes on their platforms. We encourage you to please contact both your Congressman and Senators and let them know that they need to work harder to get these drugs off social media sites to keep our kids safe.
Donald Hooton Jr.