Over half of sex trafficking victims in U.S. last year were recruited on Facebook, report reveals | #tinder | #pof | #match | #sextrafficking


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The majority of online recruitment in active sex trafficking cases last year occurred on Facebook, according to a new report from the Human Trafficking Institute.

‘The internet has become the dominant tool that traffickers use to recruit victims, and they often recruit them on a number of very common social networking websites,’ Human Trafficking Institute CEO Victor Boutros told CBSN on Wednesday.

‘Facebook overwhelmingly is used by traffickers to recruit victims in active sex trafficking cases.’ 

Data presented in the 2020 Federal Human Trafficking Report showed that 30 percent of all victims identified in federal sex trafficking cases in the past two decades – since 2000 – were recruited online.

In 2020 in the United States, 59 percent of all online recruitment of identified victims in active cases took place on Facebook alone, according to the report, and 65 percent of identified child sex trafficking victims recruited on social media were recruited through Facebook.

The majority of online recruitment in active sex trafficking cases last year occurred on Facebook, according to a new report from the Human Trafficking Institute. Pictured: A man looks at a computer screen with a Facebook logo [stock photo]

‘Surprisingly, despite Facebook’s reputation as a less popular platform among teenagers, it was a more common platform for recruiting child victims than adult victims in 2020 active sex trafficking cases,’ the report says.

‘In fact, 65 percent (68) of child victims recruited on social media were recruited through Facebook – compared to just 36 percent (10) of adults.’

Active cases included in the report cover those in which defendants were charged in 2020, and those in which defendants were charged in previous years and charges were still pending last year, or the cases were on appeal.

In a statement to CBS News, Facebook said: ‘Sex trafficking and child exploitation are abhorrent and we don’t allow them on Facebook. 

‘We have policies and technology to prevent these types of abuses and take down any content that violates our rules.’

‘We also work with safety groups, anti-trafficking organizations and other technology companies to address this and we report all apparent instances of child sexual exploitation to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,’ it added.

In 2020 in the United States, 59 percent of all online recruitment of identified victims in active cases took place on Facebook alone, according to the report, and 65 percent of identified child sex trafficking victims recruited on social media were recruited through Facebook. Pictured: Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg speaks in 2018

In 2020 in the United States, 59 percent of all online recruitment of identified victims in active cases took place on Facebook alone, according to the report, and 65 percent of identified child sex trafficking victims recruited on social media were recruited through Facebook. Pictured: Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg speaks in 2018

The annual report from the institute uses data from every active federal criminal and civil human trafficking case over the last year, but the 2020 report featured an expanded scope, coming 20 years after the government enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000 [stock photo]

The annual report from the institute uses data from every active federal criminal and civil human trafficking case over the last year, but the 2020 report featured an expanded scope, coming 20 years after the government enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000 [stock photo]

After Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook Inc.) and Snapchat were the most frequently cited platforms for recruiting child victims in 2020, the report states.

When it comes to adult victims, WeChat and Instagram followed Facebook.

The annual report from the institute uses data from every active federal criminal and civil human trafficking case over the last year, but the 2020 report featured an expanded scope, coming 20 years after the government enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000.

‘This report actually looks at the last 20 years of trends in the federal government,’ Boutros told CBS. 

‘We learned about victims, they are overwhelmingly women and children. So 50 percent of the victims are children, and a large majority are women. So 44 percent are women, and 50 percent girls.’ 

While the internet has been the most common recruitment ground for human traffickers since 2013 – including in 41 percent of active cases in 2020 – the report also notes that stores and cults as key targets of the criminals.  

'The internet has become the dominant tool that traffickers use to recruit victims, and they often recruit them on a number of very common social networking websites,' Human Trafficking Institute CEO Victor Boutros (pictured) told CBSN on Wednesday

‘The internet has become the dominant tool that traffickers use to recruit victims, and they often recruit them on a number of very common social networking websites,’ Human Trafficking Institute CEO Victor Boutros (pictured) told CBSN on Wednesday

In the report, researchers also say that the trends seen in the report reflect the DOJ’s methods of tracking down cases of human trafficking. 

‘These data do not reflect the prevalence of online solicitation in sex trafficking schemes beyond those federally prosecuted,’ the report states.

‘To be sure, the internet is implicated in many sex trafficking situations, but the high numbers of federal prosecutions involving internet solicitation are equally if not more reflective of the strategies law enforcement use to investigate these crimes.’



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