Facebook : Allow For Life-saving Harm Reduction “Instructions for Non-Medical Drugs”

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Substance abuse continues to be one of the major struggles of today. A factor that is significantly contributing to the problem is, on top of drugs, scarcity of information about their dangers and practical ways to mitigate those. Facebook banned harm reduction information, in an effort to mitigate drug profiteering hurting educators and self-help communities.

Banned are “ instructions for use of non-medical drugs” and talk about “use of non-medical drugs unless posted in a recovery context”. (FB Community Standards, I. Violence and Criminal Behavior, 5. Regulated Goods, section “Do not post”), which constitute the foundation of a pragmatic life-saving approach called harm reduction, designed for people who have not reached recovery but want to improve their safety already.

 

Harm reduction is a proven, pragmatic and effective approach to solve that problem by providing accurate scientific information to reduce harms derived from drug misuse, and this approach has gained major international recognition (i.e WHO http://www.wpro.who.int/topics/harm_reduction_injection/en/ due to its great acceptance, better respect for human rights and effectivity compared with the old “taboo” ineffective approach that promotes dangerous misinformation.

Additionally, we want to emphasize the community character of risk reduction programs. Not only do they seek and achieve the involvement of drug users themselves, but they also engage professionals in various fields working towards a common goal: care and assistance for drug users.

Despite all this support, videos, groups, and profiles from online communities and non-governmental organizations that provide harm reduction services are being removed by Facebook and Instagram due to “not meeting Community Standards”. And this is endangering seriously the valuable work of the harm reduction community.


Examples that were brought to our attention at the time of writing:

Facebook:

Safe Sesh (deleted group)
SIN - Sekcja talerzy (deleted group)
Wiem co ćpiem (deleted page)
Społeczna Inicjatywa Narkopolityki (verified as charity but later deleted)

Instagram:

ResPire Redução de Danos (deleted profile)
Wiem co ćpiem (deleted profile)

 
We appreciate the fact, that illicit drug users are concerned with and interested in ways of mitigating the risks of psychoactive substances on their health, and the success of this channels is one proof of this. That is why providing them with accurate and reliable information on safer patterns of consumption (how to manage the consumption, what dosage guidelines to follow or what routes of administration are less risky when using drugs) is vital. Sources of such information are scarce and usually unavailable to people who use drugs.

It’s time for Facebook to make the distinction between drug safety information content and drug promotion content. Sign and support our petition urging to restore deleted content immediately and to acknowledge the grassroots efforts for public health.

We, the undersigned, urge Facebook to restore the educational content pertaining to harms of drug use and ways of minimizing them. There is no doubt that education does not promote any harmful behavior and is not in violation of the Community Standards.

YouTube has already restored some of the previously removed materials, for example, a few months ago, YouTube said Drugslab, a harm-reduction drug education channel which is supported by Dutch Science and Education Ministry, has "clear educational value."

It’s time for Facebook to restore the removed content and secure valuable harm reduction profiles from the mercy of algorithms by changing the Community Standards and ensuring harm reduction will never be censored again.


We suggest the following change in FB Community Standards, I. Violence and Criminal Behavior, 5. Regulated Goods, section “Do not post”:
facebook.com/communitystandards/violence_criminal_behavior/regulated_goods

"Do not post: Content about non-medical drugs (other than alcohol or tobacco) that :

[...]

  • Promotes, encourages or coordinates,̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶v̶i̶d̶e̶s̶ ̶i̶n̶s̶t̶r̶u̶c̶t̶i̶o̶n̶s̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ use of non-medical drugs
  • Admits, either in writing or verbally, to personal use of non-medical drugs unless posted in a recovery or harm reduction context"

 

Protecting human life is a selfless act that should be protected and nourished, not punished.


Petition on release supported, endorsed & signed by

AFEW International
Acción Semilla
Acción Técnica Social (ATS) in Colombia
Beckley Foundation
Corelation
Costa Rican Association on Drug Studies and Interventions (ACEID)
DanceSafe
Drug Policy Network South East Europe
FEDITO BXL asbl - Drugs & Addictions Brussels
Fundacja Edukacji Społecznej
HOPS-Healthy Options Project Skopje
Harm Reduction Coalition
Help Not Harm
Instituto RIA in Mexico
Intercambios Asociación Civil
International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP)
International Drug Policy Consortium
Margina
Montenegrin Harm Reduction Network LINK
Montenegro NGO Juventas
Narkopolityka / Krytyka Polityczna
PRIMA
Prekursor Foundation
REDUC Brazilian Harm Reduction and Human Rights Network
SSDP Ireland
Społeczna Inicjatywa Narkopolityki
StoptheDrugWar.org
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
TB HIV Care
YODA Youth Organisations for Drug Action
Youth-RISE
Unico
Union Contre la co Infection vihhvtb

 



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