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Facebook most common venue of sex trafficking recruitment in US, says report

By Anuj Cariappa
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Washington, June 11: A latest study published by the Human Trafficking Institute has revealed that most of online recruitment in active sex trafficking cases in the United States last year took place on Facebook.

Representational Image

The 2020 Federal Human Trafficking Report found that 59 percent of victims in active cases who were recruited through social media were found through Facebook. Snapchat, WeChat, and Facebook's Instagram were also hotspots for recruitment.

"The internet has become the dominant tool that traffickers use to recruit victims, and they often recruit them on a number of very common social networking websites," Human Trafficking Institute CEO Victor Boutros told CBSN, elaborating on the report.

The report revealed that Women and girls were overwhelmingly targeted by sex traffickers, with 98 percent of criminal cases involving female victims. Children accounted for 53% of identified victims in active criminal human trafficking cases in 2020.

Girls under the age of 18 were the main target in human trafficking prosecutions, according to the report, followed by women.

According to the report, the majority of victims in active sex trafficking cases in 2020 were targeted with a fraudulent job offer.

Reacting to the report, Facebook spokesperson Jeanne Moran issued a statement saying "Sex trafficking and child exploitation are abhorrent, and we don't allow them on Facebook."

"We have policies and technology to prevent these types of abuses and take down any content that violates our rules. We also work with safety groups, anti-trafficking organisations and other technology companies to address this and we report all apparent instances of child sexual exploitation to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children," he added.

With 244 cases, the Internet was the primary location for victim recruitment. While recruitment on the street and at stores far behind, at 43 and 10 cases, respectively. Facebook was hub of sex trafficking recruitment with 78 active cases.

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