Social Media: The latest Enabler Of Human Trafficking

Samantha Inesta
Human Rights Fellow
Founder/Director
BeaSister2aSister

In the age of technology and being able to speak with people via video chat anywhere in the world, has made is a lot easier to also exploit people, especially children, anywhere in the world. Any site that allows you to post pictures, distort images or enhance them will most likely be used for some sort of sexual exploitation. The latest app to do this is Instagram. Now, just to be clear, social media apps have always been used as platforms for exploitation in one form or another. This doesn’t only apply to Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube have all in one form or another contributed to sex trafficking happening on the internet. Traffickers use Facebook to create profiles for young women with pornographic pictures, some so young they look like they’re in grade school. These pictures stay up without any accountability even when there is a outcry. Snapchat allows you to put all types of filters on photos to give them a look of fantasy for whatever they’re selling, and it’s usually children.

Instagram is used by everyone to document moments, vacations, businesses and life in general. But most people don’t see the darker things that it’s used for. Pimps will blatantly post pictures of underage girls and women shamelessly promoting their brand of pornography while selling the bodies of these women. The images are made to look like the girls in these pictures want to be there and their happy to comply with any position they are told to get into. This is social media prostitution wrapped in child exploitation and sexual assault. The most insidious thing about these accounts is that they try to attach themselves to unsuspecting accounts to either gain sex buyers or torment those who fight against sex trafficking and help the women who have survived it. It’s almost like they’re trying tell you that no matter what you do or how many laws are passed, we will still be here making money off of the bodies of women and girls. Social media sites needs to do much better to take down these accounts while putting up blockers that will not enable them to create profiles.

Pimps and traffickers are just as tech savvy as any high-level hacker. They will find any way to mask what they are doing until they get your personal information, account and profile then, they will launch assault of forced images of women, girls and children exploited and vulnerable. The cyber world has become the underbelly of the innocent online search engine. As the government cracks down on terrorism, domestic terrorism and hacking of elections, they should do the same for women and children who are being exploited. When doctored pornographic images of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez went viral created by a racist and misogynistic group that were part of boarder patrol, it’s very telling that, one, they were automatically not taken down and two, not many people aside from Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and those close to her along with some feminists, were outraged. That’s a little upsetting. Whether you like her or not it shouldn’t matter. She’s a women who was sexually exploited, against her will, on social media. If society has a complacent or complicit view of something like this, then they won’t feel compelled to do anything about women and girls being exploited on social media.

If some are still struggling with calling labeling a child a “child prostitute” then how will we ever be able to stop sites like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat from allowing their apps to be use by pimps, traffickers and sex buyers? There is still a shift that needs to be made and I believe it will happen, it may take time but things will change. We are already seeing strong, brave women and men speaking out against the destruction of pornography and what it does to minds of men and boys as well as relationships, marriages and families. The violence that is perpetuated by men from being normalized into it by the constant viewing of porn. With more and more women and girls telling their experiences of being choked, hit or worse they know it’s coming from their partners obsession with porn and his radicalized hatred of women by the industry. We need this type of outcry for the women and children who are continuously being exploited and sold on social media otherwise we are complicit and contributing to the public health crisis.

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Women And Revolution is a blog designed to raise the issues that are affecting women all over the world while giving it journalistic value. W.A.R is a division of BeaSister2aSister a 501(c)3 non profit that helps survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence, exploitation and abuse break the cycle of inter-dependency and become self sustainable. If you would like to learn more you can visit our website at http://www.beasister2asister.org or you can email us at info@beasister2asister.org. If you are interested in seeing women and girls everywhere break free from inter-dependency, please consider donating online as a one time or sustainable donor. We are committed to seeing every woman walk in total freedom.

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