Our View: Hey Social Media, Stop Profiting From Evil Activities | Opinion

In the comic book world, Spider-Man learns that “with great power comes great responsibility”, a point which is hammered home when the young hero fails to stop a criminal who later kills his beloved uncle.

In our world, those with the power to reach billions of people with information also have a great responsibility to ensure that data is not used for harmful or criminal purposes.

However, the big social media companies have breached this obligation by allowing their platforms to be a breeding ground for cartels to recruit young drivers to transport those crossing the border illegally. With a promise of quick and easy money, these criminal organizations use the same social media sites that teenagers and young adults often spend hours on every day. Most parents or other adults often have little or no idea what children can see on these platforms.

These criminal gangs are so sophisticated that they use advanced techniques such as geo-fencing and search optimization to target high-risk teenagers and lure them onto the streets with the promise of a big payday. And these social media companies are literally profiting from this criminal activity. If these companies can remove posts that question the effectiveness of vaccines and masks, surely they can remove posts and ads that sell drugs like fentanyl or recruit children to be lackeys for a international criminal enterprise.

The TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook platforms were recently called out by Governor Doug Ducey, who implored the billion-dollar companies to shut down this powerful recruitment and distribution tool operated on their sites.

We echo this call for social media companies to take control of their platforms and eliminate the ability of cartels to use their products to continue to corrupt American children and use them to further their illegal activities.

Social media companies – by allowing their platforms to be used to facilitate the transportation and sale of dangerous substances, as well as a recruitment tool for smugglers – are not only complicit in cartel crimes, they are also guilty.

If these corporate conglomerates continue to prioritize their profits over the well-being of society — as was recently revealed in congressional testimony from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen — the results will be more deaths and of destruction on the streets of our state and our nation.

Back in the world of fiction, Peter Parker’s fateful choice not to arrest a criminal led to the creation of a great hero, driven by a strong moral compass inspired in part by his failure to act and the lessons learned of this error.

Now is the time for the social media giants to learn from their countless mistakes and take action to stem the tide of illegal activity taking place on their sites. The problem must be taken seriously, with an investment of money, technology and employees tasked with removing dangerous criminal elements from the same online public spaces that the public, especially children, inhabit.

While the search for an emerging hero from social media companies may be optimistic at best, they can take the first steps towards using their great power responsibly by stepping up and stopping the criminals who use their sites to poison our society.

— Today’s Herald