Friday, June 7, 2013

When It Comes to Sex Trafficking, Tech Is Far From Neutral


Many of us live in a bubble where technology is a magical thing, a thing to be fiercely but safely debated on Twitter and in the blogosphere … which is why we don’t realize that tech has become the latest and most divisive actor (along with religion and politics) in discussions about sex trafficking.

When most people think of sex trafficking — a form of violence where people are sexually exploited for commercial purposes — they immediately think of stereotypical images. Like that of a vulnerable girl exploited by a pimp. An innocent schoolkid targeted online by a pedophile. An illicit connection between predator and unwitting prey, made on a site like Craigslist or Facebook.

But domestic minor sex trafficking is more often about young people who are homeless, yet turned away from crowded shelters. About teens exploited by family members (or kicked out of the house for being gay or transgender). Or about youths simply trying to escape other forms of violence. In other words: systemic factors that have little to do with the actions of predators.

Technology may seem like a neutral player in a fractious field, but it’s not. This domain is fraught.

This is where technology — which mirrors and magnifies the good, bad, and ugly — complicates, and plays a complicated role, in the human trafficking landscape. Technology may seem like a neutral player in a fractious field, but it’s not.

For the rest of the story:

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