On Wednesday November 25th. CyberSafeTT partnered with The Franscian Institute to deliver a presentation on Social Media and Human Trafficking. There were participants from Grenada, Guyana, St. Lucia, Jamaica and the USA. The following is an excerpt of the presentation. The entire presentation can be viewed on the CyberSafeTT YouTube channel.
The business of human trafficking globally generates an estimated US$150B in profits. A trafficker can receive as much as US$7500 per Caribbean or Latin American victim, sold for human labor. And a trafficker can receive as much as US$21,800 per victim sold for (sexual) exploitation.
With figures like those above, it is no mystery why the business of human trafficking is so profitable. However, we choose to define it, human trafficking still exists in 2020. Be it Modern Day Slavery, Forced Labour, Involuntary Servitude, this heinous act still plagues our world and with the unintended help of the internet, these crimes have been made more easy to execute.
This is also one of the reasons why the definition of human trafficking can no longer be captured in a single sentence. Because of the multi-faceted approach which traffickers can take, it is best to define human trafficking in terms of three elements, namely, the act, the means and the purpose
The Act (What is done)
Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons
The Means (How it is done)
Threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim
The Purpose (Why it is done)
For the purpose of exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs.
This brings us to the role that Social Media plays in human trafficking and to start the topic, we will discuss the topic of online grooming.
Productivity and efficiency online is a benefit not only limited to students and businesses, but also applies to criminal activities.
Online grooming tactics has been know to be part of the human trafficking plan and enables traffickers to groom multiple victims simultaneously from a single location.
It is a know fact that people share their most intimate feelings online and once they are identified as vulnerable, in the eyes of a trafficker, who is often disguised as a social media ‘friend’, the plan to use this information to lure their victim begins.
While most may use the popular social media tools to share their story, once they have been contacted by a trafficker, they are often coerced into using apps that employ self-erasing technology. This way, messages are deleted shortly after shared and therefore leaves no trace of the conversation. While these apps may also be used in a less harmful manner, it is something to look out for as a parent or guardian if noticed, being used by a teen.
Another tactic used by human traffickers which has made its way onto the digital platform is that of buying gifts to win the trust of the potential victim. The challenge with this technique however, is that unlike physical gifts which can easily be spotted by a parent or guardian, electronic gifts can easily go undetected. Such gifts may come in the from of gift cards, store credit or gaming currency. It is therefore very important to discuss with online gamers in your household to not accept digital gifts from strangers.
And unlike what has been traditionally considered as vulnerable groups, many young kids who are innocently playing in online gaming tournaments, where there is no rules governing who can play, and where it is very easy for a trafficker to assume a persona to gain the trust of a young and impressionable mind, parents and guardians must educate their kids on who they should be interacting with online.
Interested in learning more. Then head on over to the CyberSafeTT YouTube channel to view the entire presentation.
- United Nations Offices on Drugs & Crime
- Counter Trafficking Data Collaborative
- University of Toledo College of Health & Services
- Migration Data Portal
- International Labor Organization
- US Department of State – Office to monitor and combat the trafficking of persons
- Legal Affairs Office of Trinidad and Tobago
- TTPS (Interviews)
- Trinidad Guardian