How Facebook and Instagram became marketplaces for child sex trafficking
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: June 26th, 2023
Maya Jones* was only 13 when she first walked through the door of Courtney’s House, a drop-in centre for victims of child sex trafficking. When she was 12, she had started receiving direct messages on Instagram from a man she didn’t know. She decided to meet him in person. Then came his next request: “Can you help me make some money?” According to Frundt, Maya explained that the man asked her to pose naked for photos, and to give him her Instagram password so that he could upload the photos to her profile. Frundt says Maya told her that the man, who was now calling himself a pimp, was using her Instagram profile to advertise her for sex. The internet is used by human traffickers as “digital hunting fields”, allowing them access to both customers and potential victims, with children being targeted by traffickers on social media platforms. The biggest of these, Facebook, is owned by Meta, the tech giant whose platforms, which also include Instagram, are used by more than 3 billion people. In 2020, according to a report by US-based not-for-profit the Human Trafficking Institute, Facebook was the platform most used to groom and recruit children by sex traffickers (65%), based on an analysis of 105 federal child sex trafficking cases that year. The HTI analysis ranked Instagram second most prevalent, with Snapchat third. While Meta says it is doing all it can, we have seen evidence that suggests it is failing to report or even detect the full extent of what is happening.