Social Media and Human Trafficking

binary_skullA 15 year old was kidnapped from her own driveway while her mother was inside. She was kept in a dog cage for 40 days and was threatened that her captors would go after her family if she did not cooperate. She was advertised on and was turning in a hefty profit each night for her captors.

Rodney Hubert, a thirty-four-year-old man of New York employed the help of three female accomplices to lure a fifteen-year-old girl to a supposed modeling stint. The modeling agency was a farce, and she was forced to perform sexual acts for strangers. She was also advertised on

Cause and Effect

Human traffickers easily find these vulnerable individuals because they prey on the victims’ low level of economic, psychological and educational well being. Some fall prey due to the promise of lucrative jobs to escape poverty. The lure of a better future in a foreign country can be an attractive enticement to the down trodden and disadvantaged.

A 20 year old woman from Guatemala became a prostitute because of a debt which jumped from $5,000 to $30,000. She was illegally smuggled the US, thinking that she would get a housekeeping job. She was forced to deliver 25 tricks per day for the next 9 months.

A developmentally disabled girl who had difficulty making friends was approached and befriended by another woman at Santa Rosa Junior College and later disappeared. She was forced into prostitution by her captors. The search for her ended 18 months later after her mother saw her being advertised on

Supply and Demand

One victim can bring in about $280.00 for her captor. United Nations estimates the total annual revenue from human trafficking to reach more than $10 billion. Profit is the primary driving force of human trafficking. Obviously, the traffickers stand to increase their profit margin dramatically if they use forced or slave labor as opposed to conventional prostitutes.

Traffickers have been known to user Facebook to lure naïve girls into their trap. Teens are normally wary of talking to strangers face to face, but they often let their guard down while on the familiar platform of Facebook. Predators normally pose as music promoters, potential boyfriends or modeling agents. Recently, there have been several news stories in the U.S. where predators were posing as modeling agents in an attempt to lure young girls or obtain lewd photos of them.

Codie Toby Cardinal, a 38-year-old man from Canada posed as a modeling agent in a number of social networking sites including Facebook. He lured 4 victims mostly from rural areas in Canada by befriending them and inviting them to Calgary for modeling jobs. These girls, aged 16 to 20 years old were all advertised online and forced to work as prostitutes.

Any business needs marketing strategies, so does human trafficking. used to be the most popular site, but authorities cracked down on the adult postings on the site. The human traffickers have since moved to Facebook, which offers them access to more than 500 million users.

With 33 million Facebook users, Indonesia is used as a huge channel for human trafficking. In February 2010, two Indonesian men were arrested for trafficking 25 girls through Facebook, all were between the ages of 16 to 20. One of the men charged confessed that he used Facebook for two years. He would post pictures of available girls to his Facebook account and his “customers” would make their selections and arrange payment.

Type in the words ‘escort service’ in Facebook’s search box and you’ll find hundreds of human trafficking sites posing under this category. This tag comes from one in Bangkok, Thailand: ‘New crew just arrived, fresh and medically clean ready to service’

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