Human trafficking can start on social media!

Manos con celular y titular que dice: ¡Ojo puede ser trata!

Human trafficking can start on social media!

During the pandemic, many people spent much more time on social media. This behaviour exposed them to greater risks. Even though confinement ended and life gradually returned to normal, the virtual world is still a world in which young people are highly exposed to dangers.

During a crisis there are factors that increase the vulnerability of some groups of people to potential traffickers. The Internet helps traffickers advertise to victims and connect more easily with a large market of users.

Why does this increase vulnerability?

-Because traffickers will take advantage of the context (the economic situation is complex).

-Lack of profit may increase violence

-Children may be more exposed if there are disruptions in educational services or separation from caregivers.

Moreover, changes in the way trafficking networks operate have been identified:

1. Increased online recruitment through deception: they use false advertisements on social media.

2. Changes in the type of exploitation of victims already recruited: As there is a change in the demand for products and services, some types of exploitation may see losses in their profits, such as those who exploit people with forced labor.

3. Possible increase in the cyber-sex demand of minors: In addition to this, trafficking networks see the possibility of attracting the attention of many more people who are interested in material with sexual content that includes minors. 

4. Existing criminal networks can also adapt to the new situation by targeting new victims in new locations, such as refugee and IDP camps or transit points.

5. They take advantage of the widespread human, material, social and economic losses and the consequent vulnerabilities caused.

6. Stranded migrants seek other income alternatives to their country of origin. Lack of documentation puts them at risk of abuse

7. Unemployment and loss of self-sufficiency pushes people into false opportunities.

Traffickers misuse information and communication technologies (ICTs):

They hide identities and increase anonymity online: they communicate through encrypted applications or use the Dark Web to connect.

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