Facebook is 'overwhelmingly' used by sex traffickers who recruit victims online, according to a new report
- A report found that 59% of online sex trafficking recruitment in 2020 took place on
- Facebook reported earlier this year that it found more than 20 million child sex abuse images.
- The internet has become a major platform for sex trafficking recruitment in recent years.
Most online recruitment in active sex trafficking cases during 2020 in the US was on Facebook, says the
A Facebook spokesperson told Insider: "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 organizations 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."The report estimates that 53% of victims were identified as children, with an overwhelming majority being between the age of 14 and 17. Girls under the age of 18 are most likely to be victims in human trafficking prosecutions, according to the report, followed by women.
Active cases are defined as defendants who were charged in court. The findings were published on the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which made human trafficking a federal crime in the US, the report says.The issue of child exploitation online was touched upon during Facebook's shareholder meeting in late May. Sarah Cooper, a member of the Survivors' Council of ECPAT-USA, an anti-child trafficking organization, requested that Facebook's board prepare a report for investors on the risk of child exploitation on the platform. "Facebook needs to immediately improve age verification, increase human monitoring of content, work in tighter cooperation with law enforcement," Cooper said. "And it should absolutely delay any encryption on its platform until it can protect children." She cited Facebook's acknowledgment that implementing end-to-end encryption would make it more difficult to find child sex abuse material on the platform.
The proposal ultimately lost by a vote of about 980 million to 4.7 billion. The board opposed the move, citing the company's work to detect and fight abusive behavior.
Facebook reported in February that more than 20 million child sexual abuse images were found on its platform and Instagram in 2020. Last year saw a rise in child sex abuse online, an increase in part attributed to COVID-19 lockdowns.
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