• Brooke Ruhl

Social Media & Human Trafficking

Some scholars refer to this generation and the era of social media. This means most American’s, especially college age students, frequently partake in social media activities. The platforms vary, and with that the risk for human trafficking varies as well. But it remains important to understand what risks and dangers present themself with social media use, especially in regards to human trafficking and modern slavery.

Photo by Oleg Magni

Recruitment Online

Traffickers have been known to use all social media platforms in their recruitment process, according to The National Human Trafficking Hotline. This includes popular sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, amongst others, and dating sites like Tinder and Bumble. The tactics traffickers use on these sites vary. A common approach is that traffickers use social media to build relationships with possible victims by telling lies and using deception to gain their trust. Another tactic used is the posting of fake job opportunities. Traffickers may offer up job opportunities that are too good to be true to lure in victims. But the most concerning tactic that traffickers do is using social media for research. This could be as simple as seeing when people are home, seeing patterns of media, viewing snapchat geotags and more. People post a lot of their lives for their friends on their social media platforms, but their friends may not be the only people looking.

Two Tips for Online Safety:

Do not post sensitive information

Birthday, address, vacation dates, phone numbers and more can be the fuel traffickers need to target you.

Keep your circle small

Only add or accept people you personally know. While this still doesn’t eliminate risk, it helps make sure only people you trust can see what you post. Using the private feature on most apps is also a very good way to stay safe.

Each app has its own safety guards in place. USE THEM.

Here’s a great video about the risks of human trafficking and social media

Tweet me one change, or one thing you already do to ensure your safety online!

Tweet me @Brooke_Ruhl and use the hashtag #BRuhly_Trafficked


Brooke Ruhl

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Brooke Ruhl

University of Nevada Reno

2020 by Brooke Ruhl.