This is episode #3 of the Sexploitation podcast, I’m here today with Dawn Hawkins from NCOSE, and today we’re talking about the question “Does Facebook Facilitate Sex Trafficking?”
We think of sex trafficking as only occurring in dingy dungeons, but really so much of it has moved online – it’s a digital age – you no longer need to “know a guy” or go to the seedy side of town to have access to information about buying sex – now access to what was previously an underground business is just a few clicks away.
Is sex trafficking happening on FB? Dawn Hawkins shares that it is. Pimps and traffickers are using social media sites like Facebook to "market" their "product." Often girls will post pictures and be smiling and seem like they are freely engaging, but sometimes they are being coerced behind the scenes.
Facebook doesn't want to be used this way, and they're trying to fix the problem, but they could be doing more. Other websites like Snapchat and Backpage, however, aren't taking any real steps to prevent this problem.
In 2010, Craiglist shut down its section for sex ads after getting criticized by state attorneys general and advocacy groups for its role in facilitating sex trafficking. (Unfortunately, it’s still probably taking place under thin code words elsewhere on the site)
So why aren't these websites being held accountable for at leas better monitoring and finding better solutions through technology?
Answer: The Communications Decency Act Loop Hole
These companies are hiding behind a law that has been completely misinterpreted by our high courts - the Communications Decency Act. Congress intended that this law help protect children from exposure to Internet pornography. The act included a defense, Section 230, for Internet providers, protecting them from liability for material posted to their sites by 3rd parties. Thus, if illegal pornography or other material is posted to a site by someone not associated with the site operator, the site was to be held blameless.
Section 230 was well intentioned, but when the substantive portions of the CDA were held unconstitutional, the 230 defense was left standing and has been used by companies like Backpage, which holds its site out as a place to advertise illegal conduct such as sex trafficking of women and children. Congress never intended this result, yet some courts have ruled that the 230 defense provides, in effect, blanket website immunity for all material posted by 3rd parties on the sites.
Call to Action: contact your representatives and ask them to amend the CDA: http://pornharmsaction.com/app/write-a-letter?4&engagementId=40389
You can also learn more here:
This is episode #2 of the Sexploitation podcast, I’m here today with Dawn Hawkins from NCOSE, and today we’re talking about the question “Is Porn Really a Public Health Crisis?”
This question has been everywhere lately.
Utah passed a formal state resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis in the summer of 2016, then that fall the RNC added the same language to its official republican platform, and presidential nominee at the time of this recording wrote a letter to the organization Enough is Enough stating that she is supportive of protecting children against the harms of pornography. All of this has happened within the last year! Heck, Time magazine had a cover story on the harms of pornography to men. This sudden burst of discussion on this topic has a lot of people scratching their heads and wondering “where this came from.”
Dawn Hawkins shares with us that this problem has grabbed the public's attention because of the number of people who've been harmed by pornography and who are now speaking up, and also the rising amount of research.
What is a public health crisis?
There is no commonly agreed upon definition. The World Health Organization vaguely defines a crisis as a “situation that is perceived as difficult” and in 2012 the CDC said a crisis tends to occur when “an unexpected and threatening event requires an immediate response.”
I think we can raise the bar even higher and say “A serious, harmful, problem that affects individuals or groups beyond their capacity alone to correct.”
Pornography is definitely pervasive. Families can't protect themselves, even kids as young as 10 years old are being exposed to pornography and then begin using it.
Porn has serious harms to a range of categories:
Dawn discussed how she believes porn today will follow the trend of the tobacco industry in public perception.
Pornography is pervasive and popular, similar to smoking in the 1950s, but as the harms become apparent, both the general public and elected officials will demand that a multidisciplinary public health approach be implemented across the country to address it.
Call to Action: Write your representative and ask them to address this public health crisis: http://pornharmsaction.com/pornharms/app/write-a-letter?6&engagementId=100413
This is podcast episode #1, thank you so much for tuning in! Maybe you’re listening because you’re familiar with our organization, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, or maybe you just clicked on it because of the catchy name. Either way, I’m glad you’re here!
Today I’m going to give you a quick tour of what we’re about and what you can expect to gain from this podcast. We’re gonna get you the information and practical tips you need to combat sexual exploitation.
What is sexual exploitation? In a broad (and incomplete) sense, it’s any situation where someone is being used - for another’s sexual pleasure - in a way that lacks consent, or is demeaning or harmful. That means we’ll be talking about sex trafficking, prostitution, pornography, rape culture, campus sexual assault, and more.
Unfortunately, this issue is prevalent in our culture today -- we are constantly hearing questions like “does the super bowl really cause sex trafficking?” and “is prostitution a job like any other?” and “is porn actually linked to increased sexual violence?”
We’re going to talk with experts every week about these topics that are happening around us every day - and even better, we’re going to give you a clear action step you can take at the end of every podcast episode. Sometimes the world can be a depressing place - but we are seeing so much hope, and so many prominent victories in the movement against sexual exploitation, and I want to give you the tools to join in, and make a difference.
To tell you a little more about me, I work at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (or NCOSE), a non-profit located in Washington DC that works to address the links between all forms of sexual exploitation. You’ll hear a lot about NCOSE because most weeks I’ll be joined by a colleague from this organization who will help me answer the big questions.
NCOSE was founded in 1962, and it embraces a mission to defend human dignity and to advocate for the universal right of sexual justice, which is freedom from sexual exploitation, objectification, and violence.
All you need to know now, is that NCOSE does three things 1) public education 2) coalition leadership of around 300 organizations and experts and 3) changes corporate or governmental policies that facilitate sexual exploitation. Last year, in fact, we changed 15 corporate policies at places like Google, Hilton Worldwide, and Overstock.com.
I got into this work because I’m really passionate about human rights, and about getting people like you involved in this fight. I remember when I was in college the topic of “sex trafficking” was really “hip” for lack of a better word. Everyone I knew was talking about it, but nobody knew what they could do to actually make a difference. And now that I’ve found so many ways one individual can have an impact - I’m excited to share!
Anyway, thank you so much for listening and joining us in this movement. Make sure to check out our website: endsexualexploitation.org to learn more about what the National Center on Sexual Exploitation does, and be sure to tune in for our next podcast where we’re going to answer the question: is porn causing a public health crisis?
If you have any questions you want us to address during our podcasts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for all of you who have listened - this has been the Sexploitation podcast. Have a great week.