Human Trafficking & Social Media
Social media and the internet, as well as other networking technologies, provide traffickers the ability to connect with potential victims. Traffickers utilize friends of friends and word-of-mouth to identify and target youth in vulnerable situations. Traffickers are also able to manipulate potential victims’ lives in “real-time” by utilizing technology to text or share and tag photos on social networking sites.
At least 105,000 children in the U.S. are being sexually exploited, according to the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the expanding underground industry has no intention of slowing down. The FBI considers sex trafficking the fastest-growing organized crime, and online channels allowing for the exploitation are only making it easier for predators to do business.
The country’s first prosecution of an online trafficking syndicate was in 2010. The traffickers posted photos of children on Facebook, and customers booked them through chat rooms like Yahoo Messenger or mIRC. The children were sold for $45 to $60.