Over Half of Sex Trafficking Victims in U.S. Recruited on Facebook, Report Reveals
65 percent of identified child sex trafficking victims recruited on the platform
The majority of active sex trafficking recruitment in 2020 was on social media giant Facebook, a new bombshell report revealed.
The Human Trafficking Institute revealed that data presented in the 2020 Federal Human Trafficking Report showed 30 percent of all victims in he U.S identified in federal sex trafficking cases were recruited online.
59 percent of all online recruitment in 2020 of sex trafficking took place on Facebook alone, the report revealed.
While 65 percent of identified child sex trafficking victims recruited on social media were recruited through Facebook.
Human Trafficking Institute CEO Victor Boutros told CBSN:
"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."
"Facebook overwhelmingly is used by traffickers to recruit victims in active sex trafficking cases."
"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."
The report revealed active cases cover in which defendants were charged in 2020, and also those charged in previous years and charges were still pending last year.
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.
WeChat and Instagram followed Facebook for recruitment of sex trafficking victims.
The annual report from the institute derives data from active federal criminal and civil human trafficking over the past year.
But the 2020 report's scope was expanded, coming 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."
"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."
In 2019, Neon Nettle reported African child brides as young as ten years old were being advertised and sold by traffickers on Facebook.
Parents in Africa were using Facebook to sell their children via connections made on social networks in order to pay off debts.
An investigation by The Daily Beast found that, in some cases, kids as young as 10 are having their freedom bartered with men old enough to be their grandfather.