Bogus 'Facebook Drug Task Force' Story Goes Viral

By McCarton Ackerman 08/21/14

Drug users were in an online panic until realizing they'd been had.

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A new report that Facebook has instituted a “Facebook Drug Task Force” has left potheads across the country in panic, but it turns out that the story was a hoax.

Satirical news site National Report was responsible for the bogus post, which has since received 150,000 shares. The story reported that Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg had hired a team whose sole purpose it was to monitor posts and messages for any sign of users trying to buy or sell drugs. The story was inspired by Facebook’s announcement that they would be adding “satire” tags to fake news stories after many gullible users were taking outrageous stories posted by other people to heart.

The story included a 24-hour hotline for the Facebook Drug Task Force, but those who called it were taken to the direct line of the notoriously anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church. Despite the absurdity of the story given its source, several anxious drug users took to Twitter with comments that included “THE FEDS ARE WATCHING” and “How the fuck am I going to buy drugs now?” A Facebook spokesperson was forced to address the story and labeled it as “spectacularly false."

Facebook has regularly been the source of drug-related controversy. Residents of Clermont County in Ohio were outraged at three teenagers injecting their friend with heroin and posting photos of his dead body to the social media site last October, and even more so after only one of them was charged with a crime. Dylan Owens, 19, died from the injection, but only Maddison Rogers, 22, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and corrupting another with drugs after administering the fatal heroin dose.

The Clermont County prosecutor said he doesn’t expect the other two individuals, both 20, to be charged with a crime unless new evidence is presented. “There were three people there, there were three people involved and they should all pay for what they did to Dylan,” said his mother, Tina Owens. “I don't know why they would do that, I don't know why they'd be so callous and cruel and heartless. Dylan would have my back and I want to have his and I just want justice."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.