Report: Facebook Is Largest Online Recruitment Tool For Human Traffickers

FILE - In this May 16, 2012, file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. The 2020 pandemic lockdowns could have been virtual reality’s chance to offer an escape for the homebound. The success of Facebook's latest VR gear could show whether the industry has finally cracked the code. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)


New data shows Facebook is the largest online recruitment site in active U.S. sex trafficking cases. This week, Human Trafficking Institute CEO Victor Boutros said social media sites have become a dominant tool sex traffickers use to recruit victims for exploitation.

Data from the institute shows 30 percent of all victims identified in federal sex trafficking cases since the year 2000 were recruited online. Boutros added nearly 70 percent of child sex trafficking victims that were recruited on social media were contacted on Facebook.

The tech giant, which has faced major backlash regarding censorship, claimed they have policies in place to prevent sex trafficking. However, data shows that not enough is being done to prevent children and primarily women, from being trafficked.

In 2019, the family of a 12-year-old girl from Houston who was trafficked and not found until she was 15, sued Facebook for not protecting its younger users. The lawsuit claimed Facebook has no identity verification and had a weak warning system for human trafficking.

The study by the Human Trafficking Institute showed traffickers often prey on existing vulnerabilities in victims. Additionally, it said despite the common idea that traffickers are large group networks that exploit a large number of victims, the reality is that most traffickers operate individually and exploit small numbers of victims at a time.

Sarah Cooper, a member of the survivors’ council of ECPAT-USA, an anti-child trafficking organization, requested the tech giant prepare a report of sex trafficking on the platform for investors and immediately make improvements to keep users safe. However, the proposal lost and the board opposed the move.

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