The 4-Step Process Of Online Human Trafficking

October 3, 2021
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By Josie Bixler
Online trafficking is becoming more and more prevalent and is being used as a forum to groom, recruit, advertise and exploit.

Traffickers and predators start with online grooming, a process that tries to earn the trust of vulnerable individuals. In fact, grooming via the internet is particularly dangerous because deception and manipulation are easier to implement. It is easier to let down your guard when you can’t physically see someone across the chatroom, allowing predators easier access to private information.

After trust has been earned, traffickers begin the recruitment process. “The internet is a major platform for traffickers to recruit sex trafficking victims and solicit buyers of commercial sex. In 2020, 59% of online victim recruitment in active sex trafficking cases occurred on Facebook,” according to the 2020 Federal Human Trafficking Report. Traffickers use what they have learned about their victims during the grooming process to emotionally manipulate and coerce them to perform virtual sex acts.

Once a victim has been recruited, traffickers will begin to advertise them online. “One court case is particularly illustrative: a single trafficker, working alone, managed to sexually exploit and connect one victim with over 100 sex buyers over a period of 60 days using online advertisement,” the 2020 Global Report On Trafficking In Persons highlighted. These advertisements can reach anyone with internet access.

Exploitation follows swiftly after advertisement. When buyers begin to click, sexually exploitive content is ready to be viewed. The internet serves as a forum for one trafficker to exploit one victim in front of a worldwide audience.

But we can end this cycle by disrupting the demand. We have the power to raise awareness in our communities, support legislation that works on behalf of survivors, and fund investigation teams that can track and trace exploitation to the perpetrator.

We defeat human trafficking in all forms when we come together ToGetHer, using what we have, right where we’re at. 

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