Bad traffic: Behind modern slavery in America


Man or woman, child or adult, rich or poor, modern-day slavery does not discriminate.


Human trafficking is the modern equivalent to slavery. According to Do Something, an organization that promotes social justice, human trafficking affects approximately 30 million people in the world; it is a universal issue and the use of technology has become another way for perpetrators to deceive potential victims.


In a graph created by The Human Trafficking Hotline shown below, the top five states with human trafficking are California, Texas, Florida, Ohio and New York.


Human trafficking can happen in any given location. The top five industries for sex trafficking are spas, hotels and motels, online ads, resident-based commercial sex and escort services.


Julienne Jean-Louis, an employee of Embassy Suites by the Hilton, has been trained to identify different scenarios of trafficking. Jean-Louis is aware employees cannot accuse anyone of potential trafficking, but she knows how to recognize suspicious activity and report it.


“It is disgraceful, it’s scary and you have to actually realize [human trafficking] is out there,” Jean-Louis said. “My hotel could possibly be a hub for something that is so incredibly sad to think about.”


An app called IRL has raised concerns about new dangers associated with sex trafficking. The app is meant to be a tool to send invitations to meet friends in real life. According to Gizmodo, a representative for IRL says the rumors are “incredibly false.”


Under IRL’s privacy policy, a link to sex trafficking is not evident. A message is only sent when a friend with contact information sends a friend request, makes a nomination, or sends an invitation to use IRL. If any messages are undesired, the user is instructed to reply with “STOP” to end the conversation. If someone wishes to proceed, there is an option to make an account once invited.


To set up an IRL account, personal information such as a name, phone number and email are collected. Gender, GPS location and certain browser information are collected as general information. According to the app, this personal data is used to communicate with the user and improve the service. The service ensures users that information will be stored and protected within a database, but makes it clear that the database could be compromised or hacked.


There are other apps meant to combat the issue. TraffickCam, The STOP APP and Redlight Traffic allow people to report suspicious activity and give local authorities tips and clues.

If human trafficking is ever suspected, the National Human Trafficking Hotline encourages people to contact authorities.


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