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Find a Smuggler on Social Media
By: Jessica Cherok
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Need a human trafficker? Try Facebook.

In northern Africa and the Middle East, human traffickers are using social media to lure potential clients to be smuggled into Europe. Many migrants find their smugglers on Facebook, Twitter, or Viber. The crossing can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $10,000 cash and is a multi-million dollar business.

The crossing is dangerous, and there is little migrants can do to verify the success rate of the smugglers. Many migrants run the risk of being taken advantage of. Still, the benefits outweigh the risks, as many of the crossers are fleeing war-torn regions.

Because most of the migrants are younger people, the smugglers are using social media to attract them. Some smugglers are very forthcoming with what they are advertising for, outright saying that they are offering human trafficking services. Others take a more clandestine approach.

Advertising for human trafficking is against Facebook policy. According to a Facebook spokesman, “"It is against Facebook's community standards to post content which coordinates people smuggling and such content will be removed when reported to us."

But as quickly as pages are reported and taken down, they are replaced by others, making it difficult — if not impossible — to shut down human traffickers entirely.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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