August 2022 Issue

Social Media in Human Trafficking Recruitment

Social Media has impacted almost every aspect of our modern world, and it is now playing a major role in the recruitment of human trafficking victims. Traffickers adapted to lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic by switching to online methods of recruitment. In the US, analysis of the National Human Trafficking Hotline indicated a 22% increase in online recruitment in 2020. According to the US Department of State’s Human Trafficking in Persons report in India (2021), there has been a significant increase in the recruitment of women and children for commercial sex using mobile applications and dating websites.

How does it happen?

Traffickers try to build a close relationship with their victims to gain their trust so that they can later exploit them. Methods include claiming common interests, using flattery and making grand gestures or offering fake job opportunities and cash incentives. Oftentimes, relatives and intimate partners are responsible. Traffickers can use encrypted digital communication and payment applications to evade law enforcement. The internet is not only used to recruit victims. It can be used to facilitate trafficking operations and sex trafficking itself via streaming services.

Social Media in the Fight vs Human Trafficking

On the flipside, social media can be used to combat human trafficking and help survivors. Photo detection tools attempt to identify victims by matching uploaded images against images from child pornography websites and online sex marketplaces. Social media platforms can also be a way for survivors to find help and support networks. As the world of human trafficking evolves, it is essential that we remain vigilant and try to use the latest technological developments to our advantage. Visit our website to donate and to help us in our battle to help young victims of human trafficking.