The popular social media became a hub of sex trafficking according to a latest study published by the Human Trafficking Institute. It has revealed that most of online recruitment in active sex trafficking cases in the United States last year took place on Facebook.
Report said that 59 percent of victims in active cases who were recruited through social media were found through Facebook, with 41 percent of all recruitment taking place online.
Victor Boutros, CEO of the Human Trafficking Institute, told “Facebook overwhelmingly is used by traffickers to recruit victims in active sex trafficking cases.”
There were 579 active prosecutions and 200 civil suits according to last year report. Among criminal cases, there were 1,499 victims and 1,007 defendants, and 94 percent of criminal prosecutions were for sex trafficking—only 6 percent were for forced labour. Most victims—91 percent—were from the US. 65% of child victims recruited on social media were recruited through Facebook.
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.
After Facebook, the next most common platform for online socialization of child victims were Instagram and Snapchat. Among adult victims, WeChat was the most common, followed by Facebook and then Instagram. Just under half the active criminal cases researched in the report involved children; nearly all of the victims were between the ages of 14 and 17.
In 2020 all 244 cases across all ages, Facebook was the primary location in 78 active cases. The Human Trafficking Institute points out that its report is not on the prevalence of human trafficking in the US but rather of cases being prosecuted at the federal level.
The report says: “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.”