If you had asked me what social media platform is used most by human traffickers to recruit victims, I probably would have said Snapchat. It’s supposedly the platform that teens use the most, and usually, their parents aren’t using Snapchat. That makes Snapchat a prefect place for traffickers to isolate and groom your child into working for them. I use the term ‘working’ rather loosely because in reality, the victims of trafficking are essentially slaves.
So, I was surprised to see a report from the Human Trafficking Institute that said the majority of victims who were recruited into sex trafficking were done so through Grandma’s favorite social network, Facebook. As this Ars Technica article points out. It would seem antithetical to popular thought, since most teens use platforms like Instagram and Snapchat more often. However, if you really think about it, it does seem to make sense.
While teens may not use Facebook all that much, I would surmise that the majority of teens at least have a Facebook account. A number of schools use Facebook as their way of communicating with students and parents. Teens could also have Facebook accounts so they can communicate with older, less tech-savvy relatives. Since Facebook has almost become a de facto utility for many Americans, including children, it makes sense that the pimps and traffickers would be there too.
Keep in mind that Facebook isn’t going to look out for your kid. Facebook may seem like nothing more than Minion memes and baby pictures that no one asked to see, but its dark underbelly contains a seedier side that could potentially put your kids at risk.
So remember, when you wonder where child trafficking really takes place, it’s not furniture outlets or party supply stores, it’s right under your nose while you scroll through your feed looking for new essential oils.
Thanks to Hacker News Cookie for the tip.