Social media’s “in” to human trafficking

The number of people joining social media is increasing every year. Just from 2015 to early 2016, there has already been a 17% increase of social media users.

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The increase of users on social media

Social media is making a name for itself in the younger generation. Teenagers are able to build their profile in ways to shape their reputations and only expose information they want the public to believe about them.

Not only is social media giving teenagers this power to portray their image a certain way to the world, but human traffickers are doing the same thing. Social media has opened up a whole new world for traffickers.

According to United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), human trafficking is the act of gathering, moving, receiving, or keeping human beings by threat, force, coercion, or deception, for exploitative purposes. This includes “the exploitation of prostitution of other or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

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The University of Southern California has done a study on how traffickers have adapted quickly to the 21st century global landscape. The study states, “While the rapid diffusion of digital technologies like mobile phones, social networking sites, and the Internet has provided significant benefits to society, new channels and opportunities for exploitation have also emerged. Increasingly, the business of human trafficking is taking place online and over mobile phones.”

Living in Southern California the term “sex trafficking” is not common in our vocabulary. I personally thought trafficking only happened in countries outside of the United States until I started doing more research.

There was a report done by Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force  that talks about how human trafficking is done throughout Orange County in hotels and homes that start from the social media platform. This is also confirmed by the womens funding network who say that media is actually a popular marketing tool to lure in young women.

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Photo taken by Morgan Eisenga

“Social and technological platforms allow predators to operate behind anonymity and false identies which is why they use it,” said Founder and CEO of Redeeming Love Charlene Heydorn. “If they can get a vulnerable young person to believe and trust them behind the veil of the internet, then manipulation and coercion become easy.”

Citizen for Community Values shows that the average age of victims is between 11-14. About 80% of the the victims are of women and 70% are trafficked into the sex industry.

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“A majority of the victims that come to Community Service Programs are between the ages of 13-21. They were tricked into believing that they were doing work for a modeling agency and end up getting trapped by their trafficker and will do anything to keep their family out of danger,” said Community Service Programs Supervisor of the Human Trafficking Program Nikki Hutchinson.

These young girls are lured in by their trafficker’s fake social media account. They become excited about potenial opportunities with a “modeling agenecy” or even being involved romactically with a trafickker who is in fact posing as a loving partner.

“These girls begin to feel they are being valued, special, or that they can make a lot of money without their parent’s help,” said Rapha House International Director of Client Services Jen Osgood.

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Photo taken by Morgan Eisenga

The different social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat now offer private messaging. The traffickers are easily able to reach out to potential victims through messages. According to News Trust, they say the growing trend in the United States right now is that traffickers use WhatsApp or Snapchat where messages disappear over time.

The website Backpage is also used by sex traffickers. Backpage is an adevertising website that provides a variety of different job listings that range from sells, bartending and different types of services. Backpage makes up 80 percent of all online prostitution and revenue. There are certain key words that the traffickers will use in the ads to grab a girl’s attention. The traffickers can also change the words from time to time.

“Traffickers really use any type of social media to their benefit and almost any social media can be used by traffickers to connect with potential victims,” said Osgood.

Some girls become connected to their trafficker through social media because they are seeking attention and affirmation. The trafficker then in a sense “rescues” them by assuring that they can give the young girls everything they are searching for.

“The trafficker becomes very good at brainwashing the younger girls into promising them a family, love and even allowing the girls to refer to them as ‘daddy,'” said Hutchinson.

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Photo taken by Morgan Eisenga

I had the oppurtunity to talk with Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney and Human Trafficking Unit Coordinator, Jane Creighton about what she has seen in Los Angeles regarding sex trafficking through the different platforms of social media.

She starts off by telling me about an encounter she had a few years ago with a female college student who was caught up in the scam/manipulation of trafficking. This college student attended a good college and had family support. The victim did not come forward because she was threatened by her trafficker. The only way the victim got away is because her trafficker was caught up in a federal drug sting.

“We have to keep in mind after the victims are captured, their traffickers already have a sense of who they are through their social media accounts. In this case it would be advised that the girls need somehow detach from social media,” said Creighton.

Social media is growing every day and young girls need to become more cautious of how they expose themselves on social media and who they might interact with.

“Because of the many ways traffickers are able to get connected with young girls through social media, we must prevent trafficking through awareness and education,” said A21 Global Volunteer Coordinator, Katie Fillinger. “We have created presentations and curriculum for schools, orphanages, and universities. Young people are now being equipped with strategies to avoid becoming a victim of human trafficking.”

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Picture taken by Morgan Eisenga

The goal of A21 is to use social media platforms for potential victims to prevent trafficking before it even begins. This education empoweres the rising generation to be aware of the media propaganda used by the sex trafickking industry. 

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Photo taken by Morgan Eisenga

Sex trafficking is happening daily, not only globally, but right here in Southern California. These statistics and knowledge do not need to depress us, but empower people to create change and be more aware of how they present themseleves on social media platforms.

The Columbus Dispatch says, “We have come a long way, but we can not be happy where we are.”

 

 

 

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School fight leads to death of a student

These days you are used to hearing about school shootings, not school fights that lead to death!

Well just today according to CNN, a sixteen year old high school student from Wilmington, Delaware was announced dead after getting into a fight with another classmate.

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Courtesy: CNN

The student died at the hospital where she was transported by helicopter because how severe her injuries were.

There is no report on how the fight was caused or any other details that led up to it. The student’s names are still not released as well.

Howard high school is offering mentors and counselors tomorrow as the students resume school to allow the students to process everything that has happened.

 

Dropped Battery Charges: Corey Lewandowski

According to the New York Times there is not enough hard evidence to charge Donald Trump’s manager Corey Lewandowski for misdemeanor battery, so the case is dropped.

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Courtesy: New York Times 

Lewandowski was accused of forcefully grabbing Michelle Fields. This incident occured when Fields was attempting to ask Trump a question. Fields is a reporter for the Breitbart News, which is a conservative American online news website.

This took place at Trump’s National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla. on March 8.

The prosecuter of the case Dave Aronberg said, “The case came down to a simple conclusion that it would be ‘unethical’ to move ahead when there is no ‘good-faith basis to proceed.'”

Aronberg did make comments about how this case was not strong enough to lead to a conviction, but how the video did have enough evidence for Lewandowski to be charged by police.

Fields is not satisfied with the outcome of the case and is considering a defamation suit against Mr. Trump and Mr. Lewandowski.

 

Donald Trump: AIPAC Annual Conference

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke on March 20 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. During this speech Trump addressed the  American Isreal Public Affairs Committee, also known as AIPAC Annual Conference. Trump focused his speech on his concerns with relations of the United States and Israel. The speech was 27 minutes long.

Trump started his speech with confidence and was determined to get his point across to the people in Washington D.C. He began by saying how he is a true friend of Israel and what Israel means to him. He quickly transitioned into why he was speaking at the AIPAC Conference which was to talk about the present and future relationship of the United States and Israel.

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Courtesy: CNN

 

The statements and claims Trump made in the beginning of his speech were truthful.

Claim 1: “Mayor Rudy Giuliani visited Israel to show solidarity with terror victims.”

This is true according to Breaking Israel News (“Isreal’s CNN”). After the 9/11 attacks, Mayor Rudy Giuliana made a trip out to Israel hoping to lift morale.

Giuliana visits Israel often, he enjoys the relationships he has with the country. He also believes that, “America should be 100 percent behind Israel because they are fighting our battle against Islamic terrorism.”

Claim 2: “I sent my plane because I backed the mission for Israel 100 percent.”

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (Isreali “wire service”) can confirm this statement of Trump. In 1988, Trump did send one of his planes to fly out a three year old boy to the United States for medical attention.

Trump did this because commericial airlines declined to fly the boy out.

Claim 3: “In spring of 2004 at the height of the violence in the Gaza Strip, I was the grand marshal of the 40th Salute to Israel Parade, the largest-single gathering in support of the Jewish state.”

This statement is true. The New York Times did report this event in 2004 and also provided pictures of Trump as the grand marshal.

Trump has receieved a lot of recognition from Israel and has received awards because of his support to American Jewish organizations.

It was not until five minutes into the speech that Trump started making false declarations.

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Courtesy: Politifact

Claim 4: “We’ve rewarded the world’s leading state sponsor of terror with $150 billion, and we received absolutely nothing in return.”

This statement is 100% false according to the Politifact. The truth of this statement on Politifact states, “Trump is referring to the amount of previously frozen Iranian assets the deal releases. To be clear, this is money that already belongs to Iran so we’re not “giving” them anything. The $150 billion is a high estimate, and most experts say the real figure is closer to $100 billion, while Iran is probably only able to access a fraction of that.”

Trump has repeatedly made this statement at other campaigns and there is no truth behind it.

Claim 5: “When those restrictions expire (in the Iran nuclear deal), Iran will have an industrial-size military nuclear capability ready to go.”

This claim is verified as false on Politifact, which states, “Key restrictions in the deal never expire, including the pledge to not conduct activities that would contribute to the design and development of a nuclear explosive.”

It continues to say, “Even if Iran were to go all-out for a nuclear program once the 15-year limit on uranium enrichment goes away, it would take months, if not years, for the country to develop a bomb and delivery system so its military could go to war with nuclear weaponry.”

There is no evidence on how long it would take the Iran military to make an type of explosive.

Claim 6: “And believe me, that’s why I’m going to be elected president, folks. And we are leading in every poll. Remember that please.”

This statement of his is true according to politifact.com. It says, “And yet, when it comes to winning delegaes in persuit of the Republican nomination, Trump is the frontrunner–by a mile.”

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Courtesy: Wall Street Journal 

Even though he is leading in every poll, U.S News states, “You become president with 270 Electoral College votes or more. And Trump, based on data (not emotion), is within striking distance of that benchmark based on historical data points.”

Continuing into his speech Trump was stricken the crowd with true facts.

Claim 7: “In Gaza, Iran is supporting Hamas and Islamic jihad.”

This statement from Donald Trump is true according to Iran Premier. When the 1979 revolution was over, Iran started supporting the Palestinians.

Claim 8: “And in the West Bank, they’re openly offering Palestinians $7,000 per terror attack and $30,000 for every Palestinian terrorist’s home that’s been destroyed. A deplorable, deplorable situation.”

This statement is true of Donald Trump according to The Times of Israel.

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Courtesy: Getty Images

Claim 9: “During the last five years, Iran has perpetuated terror attacks in 25 different countries on five continents.”

This statement according to Politifact is half true. Politifact says, “Trump has a point that Iran is widely believed to be supporting, or trying to support armed or terrorist groups in many countries around the world, though the exact number is not known with any specificity outside Tehran.”

However, that’s not the same thing as actually perpetrating terrorist attacks. Trump only referred to activity, not attacks.

Claim 10: “Iran is the biggest sponsor of terrorism around the world.”  

This is statement is true according to Clarion Project. Clarion Project has stated that Iran is the leading sponsor of terrorism. Also Clarison Project states, “Iran has been on the State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism since 1984.”

Claim 11: “As many of the great people in this room know, painted on those missiles in both Hebrew and Farsi were the words “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth.”

This statement is true according to the Snapshots a Camera Blog. When this was first CNN could was not able to confirm anything that is why Snapshots a Camera Blog helped retreiving the photo.

When Trump’s speech came to an end about 80% of what he was communicating was true. He did make false claims with nothing to back him up, but he ended the night continually stating how much love he has for Israel and what Israel means to him. The relationship Trump has with Israel may be a huge advantage for him in the presidential election.

 

U.S. Women’s Soccer team fights for equality in pay

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The U.S Women’s Soccer team. Picture taken from Getty images.

After winning three World Cup championships and four Olympic championships, the U.S. Women’s Soccer team has every right to toot their own horn about being the best in the world and nothing is going to stop them, especially if it regards being paid less than the U.S Men’s Soccer team.

According to the Huffington Post, five of the most well known names on the U.S. women’s national soccer team have filed a complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation on Wednesday. The five players are Carli Lloyd, Alex, Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo. These women have no shame of publicizing their names on why they should be receiving just as much money as the men.

 

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Rapinoe, Lloyd and Solo celebrating after victory over Japan. Picture taken by Getty Images.

Everyone is always making comments about equality, but it is more talk than action. These five women are willing to do whatever to fight for equality especially in female sports.

These women are sick and tired of being treated less than the men. “Every single day we sacrifice just as much as the men. We work just as much,” said Morgan.

According to an article on espnW it says, “If the women win each of the minimum 20 friendlies they play annually and the men lose the same number of the matches, the men’s side would still earn more money than the women’s.”

Another wonderful example of how the U.S. women’s soccer team was cheated with pay was the U.S men’s team pocketed $9 million after getting to round 16 in the 2014 World Cup. Whereas the women won the World cup and only received $2 million.

Comparing men and women athletes has always been a touchy topic and nothing has ever came out of it. But this time we are hoping for a different outcome.

These five women will continue to wait to hear back from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding further investigation. The anticipation will continue especially if the EEOC sides with the women, they will receive millions back in pay.