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“Their children were killed by drugs found on Snapchat.” Time to regulate social media “free speech”


Sammy Chapman with his mother, Dr. Laura Berman


…corporations have no free-speech rights


I am a serious free speech, first amendment advocate. However, none of the rights in the Bill of Rights is unlimited, unconditional. Even though the first amendment says that “Congress shall make no law” regulating speech, religion, press, assembly, or right to appeal, they have done so on numerous occasions — and courts have approved some regulation.

Especially when children are involved.


The case of Sammy Chapman is gut-wrenching.


It demands regulation of social media giants.


The internet has provided young people with many positive tools, although they often do not use them positively. However, social media has proven to be very destructive, and corporate giants like Facebook and Snapchat have hidden behind the first amendment.

However, a bipartisan group of congressmen and women have proposed regulations that are essential. One of the is called “Sammy’s Law,” and this is the story of why his parents are advocating for this regulation.


Background


The one known as Sammy’s Law is being draft because the young teenager died of an overdose from drugs found on Snapchat,


Democrats and Republicans in Congress are proposing three pieces of legislation aimed at giving parents greater oversight of what their children do online and making social media companies culpable for crimes associated with their apps …

The newest of the three, called Sammy’s Law or the Let Parents Choose Protection Act, is being drafted by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and could be ready to be introduced in the House in a matter of weeks, said two people close to the effort who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss private conversations. The bill would require large social media companies to allow parents to track their kids online via third-party software …

The draft legislation comes after years of activism from a community of parents whose children have died from fentanyl overdoses that followed drug deals facilitated on social media platforms like Snapchat, where drug dealers have found private venues to target young people. But those efforts have also been countered by some concerns from privacy advocates who worry that legislation could lead to overly intrusive surveillance.

The bill from Wasserman Schultz is named after Sammy Chapman, who died in 2021 at the age of 16 from fentanyl-laced drugs purchased from a drug dealer on Snapchat.


Since then, Sammy’s parents have been among the loudest voices calling for social media companies to make changes. His father, Samuel, and mother, Laura Berman, eventually went on to develop and advocate for Sammy’s Law with the Organization for Social Media Safety.

Ben Goggin, “Their children were killed by drugs found on

Snapchat.” NBC News, August 4, 2022

Samuel Chapman


Sammy Chapman was a very intelligent 16-year-old who died of a drug overdose last year after buying the drugs through Snapchat.


His mother is a well-known TV host who was broken-hearted after announcing his passing last year,


My beautiful boy is gone. 16 years old. Sheltering at home. A drug dealer connected with him on Snapchat and gave him fentanyl laced Xanax and he overdosed in his room. They do this because it hooks people even more and is good for business but It causes overdose and the kids don’t know what they are taking.

My heart is completely shattered and I am not sure how to keep breathing. I post this now only so that not one more kid dies. We watched him so closely. Straight A student. Getting ready for college.


Experimentation gone bad. He got the drugs delivered to the house. Please watch your kids and WATCH SNAPCHAT especially. That’s how they get them."


Saumya Dixit, “Who was Samuel Chapman? OWN host Dr Laura Berman’s son, 16, dies of drug overdose after buying it on Snapchat,” MEAWW.com, February 8, 2021


They delivered to his home. He was so strait-laced that maybe he just wanted to experiment. He was super smart, maybe a little laid-back, but knew how to use social media — and it cost him.


Kids Online Safety Act


The key to this regulation is that politicians from both parties are supporting the regulation. The Senate has already approved some legislation in committee that is intended to do what Sammy’s Act is doing,

In the Senate, the Kids Online Safety Act, sponsored by Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would create a duty of care for social media companies that would theoretically allow them to be sued if it was found that they were not sufficiently preventing harm to minors on their platforms. The bipartisan bill was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee last month.


Marc Berkman, CEO of the Organization for Social Media Safety, a group that helped develop the CHATS Act and Sammy’s Law, said that he’s hopeful about the new interest among lawmakers in legislation pertaining to social media crime and protecting children.

“We’re seeing more and more cases where children have been severely harmed, but also potentially millions of cases with some level of harm among children,” he said. “So the public awareness has reached a certain point where we’re finally seeing legislative action again at all levels of government.”


Ben Goggin, “Their children were killed by drugs found on

Snapchat.” NBC News, August 4, 2022


Yes, this comes from a free speech advocate who strongly believes in regulation of social media. Corporations and organizations do not have free speech rights. They are rights provided to individuals, but the conservatives on the Supreme Court gave those rights to corporations.


It is time to change that.

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