How The Internet Affects Human Trafficking

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There are many social issues faced by the criminal justice system in today's society. One of those issues is the evolution of the internet and how its helped create more crimes. Throughout the years the internet has evolved into something we use on a daily basis. It's no longer just something we use for research, but it's a way of life. The internet and social media have turned into a tool for criminals to help them commit crimes. It's also made it easier for them to commit crimes. One of those crimes is human trafficking. The more information we are willing to share on the internet the greater the risk of falling prey to human trafficking. This is the problem I will be focusing on in this assignment.

Social media has come a long way throughout the years. The first form of social media was created in 1997, and was known as Six Degrees. It was a site created to help users upload and share information and make friends with other users. It was two years later, in 1999 that the first blogging site became popular. Today there are estimated over 100 social media sites on the internet. Two of the most popular social media sites today, are Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are very populars in today's society and used as a source of communication, sharing private information and making friends for teens and adults. (Hendricks, 2013)

Social Media has unfortunately made it easier to gather and share personal information online. It has also made it easier for people mostly young teens, to fall prey to online strangers, which has led to the increase of human trafficking and other crimes. Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery. Human trafficking is something that has been around for hundreds of years. Human trafficking is international, and can happen to anyone at any place. According to the website DoSomething, the defition of human trafficking “ involves transporting someone into a situation of exploitation. This can include forced labor, marriage, prostitution, and organ removal”. Most victims of human trafficking are usually lured by false promise of either a relationship, money, better job or better life. About 71% of victims of human trafficking are women and young girls. Its estimatied that there are about 20 to 40 million people in modern day slavery today. (DoSomething, 2013) It's hard to determine the exact number of victims because many cases go unreported, undetected and unsolved. Our textbook states that roughly 15,000 to 18,000 victims are trafficked in the United States alone, every year. (Collica, K. & Furst, G.2012 Chp.8)

Experts such as Dr. Mellissa Withers, who wrote the artible on Modern Day Slavery, stated that “Unfortunately, social media has also opened new avenues for sexual violence against women. Human trafficking is one major example of this.” (Mellissa Withers,PHD D 2019)

Traffickers use online platforms to control their victims. The arcticle stated that The National Human Trafficking Hotline reported over 1,000 cases of sex traffickying were recruited through social media alone. Perpetrators portray themselves online as something they are not. It's easier for traffickers to target young victims online then it is in person, so they take advantage of social media any way they can. Traffickers portray themselves as someone looking to make new friends or someone looking for a relationship, or even someone looking to hire or recruit people for work. The more information we are willing to share on the internet the greater the risk of falling prey to human trafficking.

After watching the You-Tube video “Sex Traffickers Use Social Media To Target Victims” news reporter Alyssa Ivanson, interviewed severeal law eforements angents about how social media effects sex traffacking. One agent by the name of Cathie Bledsoe, stated that it could take as little as 24 hours for a perp to find their next victim. Social media has made it much easier for sex offenders and traffyckers to find their next vistim because its less work for them. Alyssa also interviewed a FBI Undercover Special Agent who stated that traffickers like to “groom” their victims. They do this by false promises and telling the victim everything they would want to hear in order to lure them in. The Special Agent also talked about how sharing private nude pictues online may turn into sex-torsion. Sex-Torsion is when someone shares a private nude picture with someone on social media and the other person uses or threantens to use the picture to get what they want. This is also a form of cyber blackmail. (Alyssa Ivanson, 2017)

They normally target someone who seems to have low self-esteem or problems at home. They target young, weak and vulnerable people and prey on their misfortune. They sometimes take their time and make sure to befriend the victim and earn their trust before putting their plan into motion. The article by Dr. Mellissa Withers, stated that “A 2018 study found that 55 percent of domestic minor sex trafficking survivors who became victims in 2015 or later reported meeting their traffickers for the first time using text, a website, or a mobile app. ”(Mellissa Withers,PHD D 2019)

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In our textbook it states that because of the advances that we have made in today's world, like the internet and social media and online websites, It has helped provide more opportunities for criminals and sexual predators to engage with victims. It also talked about the advances that social media has made, like the ability to track your location. For example the social media app Snapchat has the ability to track your location and makes it public for anyone on your friends list. Facebook also has the ability to let you “check in '' places, so your friends can often find out where you are and what you are up too. Teens nowadays think this is a normal thing to do because it's very common and unfortunately sharing private information has become part of everyday life. Teens and young adults see social media as harmless and a way to stay connected and up to date. Being able to easily track someone's location and “check-in” places, helps predators. Social media makes it easier for them to collect your personal information which they use to target you. (Collica, K. & Furst, G.2012 Chp 5.2)

With the advances in our social media, there have been a few things that our society has done to remedy this problem. One for example, is creating parental control software for parents. Parental control software gives parents the ability to give restricted access to their children's social media and website browsing. Parents are able to monitor what website their child can access and even put a block on certain websites. One example of parental control software is “Google SafeSearch” . It's a software created by Google, which can block inappropriate websites and inappropriate images from your results. This may help save a child or teen from being in contact with strangers .(Carolyn Bunting, 2018)

One other thing that was created to help limit online access to younger viewers is COPPA. COPPA stands for the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act. The Federal Trade Commision described COPPA as a rule that “Imposes certain requirements on operators of websites or online services directed to children under 13 years of age, and on operators of other websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information online from a child under 13 years of age.” (Federal Trade Commission)

There is more that we can do as a society to help control how much we share on social media. If we teach children and young teens and adults about social media and what is ok to share and not to share. For example I am very private when it comes to my own social media. I share funny memes and quotes but when it comes to sharing private information like my birthday or the city I live in, I make sure to keep that information private and only viewable to me and not anyone on my friends list. I feel like I don't share as much as everyone else on my friends list because I know how easy it is for someone to take advantage of the personal information you share. I also have a young son which I make sure to not post pictures of him online, because once a picture is online anyone could have access to it. I feel that if we teach our society more about the importance of privacy and just how easily your personal information can be stolen, that we could decrease the amount of personal social media we share and it could help save people from being victims of human trafficking and other cyber crimes.

According to the article written by Diana Graber, “3 Reasons Why Social Media Age Restriction Matters” she shared some very interesting statistics about children and social media. “According to The Social Age Study by, approximately 59% of children have already used a social network by the time they are 10. Facebook has the most users under the age of 13— 52 percent of 8 to 16-year-olds admit they ignore Facebook’s age restriction. You don’t have to conduct a study to know that young kids under 13 are flocking to sites like Instagram, for example, to post and share photos, and to collect likes from their friends.”(Diana Graber, 2014)

Although kids can always find a way to get by age restricted social media sites, I still feel like age restriction of certain social media pages is a must. In today's society anyone with an email address can now sign up for some sort of social media. If we put age restrictions on certain sites and made it more difficult to sign up, it would minimize the amount of younger people on social media pages. We need to try to discourage young people from sharing private information and from talking with strangers online. We need to make them more aware that not everyone should be trusted and not everyone had their best interest in mind. One negative outcome from this could be that children might ask older friends to create an account for them or keep their account secretive from their parents, which could just make things worse. We need to make sure we are honest with children and young adults and that they are aware of human trafficking and what it means and who the traffickers aim after. If we educate them it could help save them.

Human trafficking is something that will probably never go away. The more information we are willing to share on the internet the greater the risk of falling prey to human trafficking. That's why we need to educate children and young adults about the dangers of sharing too much information on social media. And the dangers of meeting and speaking with strangers on social media.

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How The Internet Affects Human Trafficking. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 23, 2024, from
“How The Internet Affects Human Trafficking.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
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