How Sex Traffickers Make use of Social Media to Contact, Get, and Sell Children
In 2019, Facebook has been sued by a 15-year-old sex trafficking survivor.
The suit originated in Houston, and it said that “Jane Doe”—the pseudonym provided to the trafficking survivor—was only 12 years old when Facebook allowed her first connection with the man who trafficked her.
The man allegedly used Facebook to information and groom Doe for a period of 6 months before eventually convincing her to meet plan him at a Motel 6. When she showed up, he apparently kidnapped her and sex trafficked her on Backpage.
According to Doe’s attorney, Annie McAdams, this heartbreaking story is anything but exclusive. The common plotline will go something like this: traffickers use social media to get and coerce and/or manipulate victims directly into meeting with them before the trafficker kidnap and exploits them.
Related: Sex Trafficker Sentenced To 122 Many years For Using Fb To Recruit Underage Students
McAdams states, “We represent a large number of trafficking victims plus it’s like the same story. Different kid same story. ”
In her 61-page suit, Doe’s attorney contended that her trafficking was caused by Facebook not providing the particular safe environment it claims to provide.
While we all don’t know the exact truth regarding the specific allegations made against Facebook in this suit, research and survivor accounts clearly claim that social media is regularly used by traffickers to connect with potential sufferers.
Is social networking being used for trafficking?
Assuming Doe’s trafficker did get her through Fb, the answer to regardless of whether social media is being utilized for trafficking is a “yes”—one that becomes considerably more resounding when considering McAdams’ representation of thousands of victims along with similar stories. Think about also that Facebook is among the most popular social media sites, and recruitment may and does happen upon other platforms, as well.
A study performed from the University of Toledo (UT) Human Trafficking and Social Proper rights Institute also highly supported this and found that social networking is increasingly getting utilized as a medium to contact, recruit, promote children for sexual intercourse.
In the UT research, a true story contributed by an un-named expert offers a very clear example of why social media is used so often simply by traffickers. But that will study isn’ t the only report to discover that social media is being used more and more by traffickers.
Related: 2021 Trafficking In Persons Record: The Impact COVID-19 Had On Intimate Exploitation
The Human Trafficking Institute also released its annual Federal Human Trafficking Report within June 2021—shining a mild on the reality and scale of human trafficking in the United States, specifically.
These estimates are based on prosecuted cases, and are not necessarily representative of all trafficking cases, but they are telling.
- 83% of active 2020 sex trafficking cases included online solicitation, that is overwhelmingly the most common method traffickers use to solicit sex buyers.
- 59% of online victim recruitment in active intercourse trafficking cases occurred on Facebook.
- 65% of underage victims hired online in 2020 active criminal sexual intercourse trafficking cases were recruited through Fb, while 14% were recruited through Instagram, and 8% had been recruited through Snapchat.
In the real-life illustration, a trafficker utilized social media to connect using a vulnerable, young young lady. She was an easy target because of how unhappy she has been at the foster home she was residing in—something the man instantly garnered from the girl’s profile. In only a few hours after their initial social media-induced connection, he had picked the girl up at her foster home in Toledo and taken her to Columbus to traffic her.
Related: How This Woman’s Tinder Connection Became A Intercourse Trafficking Nightmare
Clearly, what once was dubious has been made possible by means of social media.
Traffickers not just have immediate access to their victims, but they also have immediate access to a wealth of information regarding those victims such as what they look like, what their interests are usually, whether they are joyful or not, where these are, who they spend time with, among other information.
Not only that, but traffickers can perform their research plus contact their sufferer all while safeguarding their own identities. LACE professor of social work and director of the UT Human Trafficking and Interpersonal Justice Institute, Dr . Celia Williamson, cites a 2018 review that says 42% of trafficking sufferers who met their trafficker online by no means actually met their trafficker in person.
How is social media being utilized to traffic?
Traffickers use social media to particularly seek out vulnerable children—and they can reach out to all those children at one time.
According to the specialists from the UT research, traffickers are drawn to children who post expressions of worry, emptiness, and frustration, such as “nobody gets me, ” “my life sucks, ” “I need to get out of here, ” and much more. Traffickers also search for indicators of drug abuse, runaway activity, plus home instability.
Related: How To Identify Sex Trafficking Victims And Stop Contributing To Sexual Exploitation
From there, the traffickers will further instruct themselves on their potential victim by learning other posts their particular potential victim can make on his or her commonly used view-and-comment sites like Facebook, Instagram, Tinder, and others.
To explain how traffickers make use of social media for trafficking, one professional from the study commented, “These guys, they learn about the girls and make-believe to understand them, therefore these girls, who are feeling not understood and not loved instead of beautiful … them are very good at sort of pretending that they are these things and they really understand them. ”
Traffickers’ strategic responses consist of phrases like, ”I think you’ re beautiful, ” “I’ ll encourage you to definitely show your body, ” and “ I’ ll protect a person, ” to get the victim’s guard down and establish trust.
After trust is built, traffickers will convince the potential victim to meet up with them or might even coerce the potential sufferer to send a dangerous picture, which the trafficker can then use to extort the potential victim.
Social media can help victims, as well
While McAdams’ caseload and UT’s study both show how social networking can be used to coerce plus manipulate potential trafficking victims, a discussion we shared with the top of an Illinois-based anti-sex trafficking nonprofit, “Annie, ” illuminated exactly how social media can also be used to help victims.
“We occasionally use artificial profiles to connect along with other trafficking victims. This method serves two reasons. First, it may permit us to catch the trafficker. Since traffickers often check their victims’ social media accounts, we can create ourselves look like an easy target who the trafficker might want to connect to. Second, and more importantly, we can check on the status of the trafficker’s victim and potentially even rescue all of them, ” Annie says.
Related: How “Recruiters” Use Social Media To Trick Teens In to Cam Model Frauds
But there’s also a way potential sufferers can be protected over social media before a scenario escalates. Our affiliates at Bark are suffering from an algorithm that can alert parents when potential predators have contacted youngsters on their devices.
According to the specialists, a main way to protect kids from predators on social media is by having them connect openly with reliable older figures, for example parents and mentors—they form the front collection in the fight.
Now, we all know having older people inspect online presence isn’t the best feeling, but it is the safest choice.
Plus, in this case, the safest option is most definitely the best option.
Click this link to learn more about how porn and sex trafficking are inseparably linked.
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