Perpetrators of human trafficking exploit vulnerable people throughout the world, and many use online platforms to do it. A platform created to connect people for social, gaming, dating, learning, or marketplace interactions can be turned to a dark purpose by human traffickers, who use the internet to expand their reach, connect with victims, and conceal their activities.
Human trafficking isn’t the result of a single bad actor: it is a vast criminal enterprise, generating hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
$975 million generated by human trafficking every year¹
Even those familiar with human trafficking, and the ways that online platforms are used to facilitate it, are often unaware of the scope of the problem. Without understanding the enormity and complexity of the human trafficking issue, it is difficult to know how best to address human trafficking prevention.
Globally, there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking, with hundreds of thousands in the United States. Between 15,000 to 50,000 women and children are forced into sexual slavery in the United States every year.
Online platforms have changed the ways that people work, play, and socialize with one another. Unfortunately, they have also changed the ways that criminals locate, connect with, and exploit their victims.
The digital world affords traffickers anonymity and the ability to reach a broad audience - one that extends outside of the trafficker’s physical geographic area.
Online platforms are the primary form of trafficking solicitation in OVER TWICE AS MANY criminal cases as any other method each year since 2008.²
Online platforms are difficult to monitor and there is no international regulatory standard, making it challenging to pursue and stop cross-border activity. The use of social media by trafficking victims is being exploited maliciously as a means of control.
In a survey of trafficking survivors, 26% of victims said that their trafficker exploited them via their own personal social media accounts.³
Traffickers maintain control over their victims through online platforms. Nearly one-third of survivors stated that their traffickers stalked or monitored their social media accounts, both during the grooming process and after the trafficking had begun.
A number of non-profit organizations have been created to help solve the problem of human trafficking. Some, like Love 146, concentrate on prevention and survivor care. Others build awareness and work with law enforcement to track active traffickers.
Some, however, are looking to use the growing presence of traffickers in the digital world to work against malicious activities. DeliverFund, for example, is focused on applying cutting-edge technological solutions against human traffickers, turning the tools traffickers use into weapons against them.
Trafficking isn’t a cobbled-together activity - it is a highly-organized, professional, and lucrative criminal enterprise. This makes the problem more challenging to address. Professional criminals are skilled at circumventing detection, and a strategic, experienced, and coordinated effort is required to intervene. For example, the team at DeliverFund has decades of experience from careers in the CIA, NSA, Special Operations, and law enforcement, which they use to direct their efforts at a technological approach to prevention.
Traffickers change tactics frequently to circumvent detection. This makes it difficult to identify problematic behaviors in order to address them. Generally, traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion as a means to dominate and control their victims for financial gain. But the online activity that leads up to the trafficking - and the use of online platforms to control victims - takes a variety of different approaches. Switching back and forth between romance and coercion, for example, makes it difficult to identify a single type of problematic behavior, allowing traffickers to circumvent detection.
Another method of avoiding detection that traffickers use is hopping from one online platform to another. While the victims may have consistent or linked profiles across a number of different platforms, bad actors disguise their identities and separate their actions so that their activity cannot be tracked across the digital world. It’s easy for traffickers to track targets from one site to another, but impossible to track traffickers from one site to another without a concerted, cross-platform effort.
Spectrum Labs and DeliverFund have partnered to bring a new solution to social platforms, supporting their efforts in identifying human traffickers on their sites or services, helping to prevent the unknowing facilitation of human trafficking activities.
With this solution, Spectrum clients and customers will be able to confirm that no known human traffickers are listed in their customer database. The ‘known human traffickers’ database will be updated consistently, on a quarterly or monthly basis.
Listen to the OASIS podcast with DeliverFund: Brand Safety Exchange: Fighting Human Trafficking Through Technology, with Nic McKinley of DeliverFund on Apple Podcasts
DeliverFund is a counter-human trafficking intelligence company staffed by professionals with decades of experience from careers in the CIA, NSA, Special Operations, and Law Enforcement. These experts combine their skills and knowledge with industry-leading technologies to form the ultimate weapon against human trafficking. DeliverFund tracks and identifies human traffickers using a network of trained professionals and data sources. The organization works with local law enforcement and federal agencies to track, monitor, and ultimately prosecute human traffickers.
The partnership between DeliverFund and Spectrum Labs leverages the strength of DeliverFund’s intelligence with Spectrum Labs’ cutting-edge technology to help online platforms mitigate the risks associated with criminal use of their products and services.
Join us in the fight against human trafficking. Learn more about human trafficking prevention on your online platform with Spectrum Labs.
When it comes to moderating disruptive behaviors online, you shouldn’t have to do it alone. Spectrum’s AI models do the heavy lifting - identifying a wide range of behavior, across languages. Our engines are immediately deployable, highly customizable and continuously refined.
Whether you are looking to safeguard your audiences, increase brand loyalty and user engagement, or maximize moderator productivity, Spectrum Labs empowers you to recognize and respond to toxicity in real-time across languages.
Contact Spectrum Labs to learn more about how we can help make your community a safer place.