Internet safety tips to protect yourself against human trafficking online
Human traffickers have become adept at using internet platforms, including social media channels, online marketplace sites, and free-standing webpages to recruit victims and attract clients.
Traffickers either actively ‘hunt’ those who they deem as vulnerable to falling victim to trafficking, or passively ‘fish’ for potential victims by posting advertisements and waiting for potential victims to respond.
Below, find some tips to protect yourself and your loved ones against human trafficking:
- Set strict privacy settings
If your social media accounts are public, then anyone can see your photos, posts, and other information. Traffickers have used this information to reach out to and recruit victims. Consider setting your accounts to ‘private’ and turn off location sharing on posts.
- Beware of strange friend requests
Only accept friend or follow requests from people you know, even if you have friends in common. Traffickers have reached out to strangers to ‘chat’ via social media and then slowly work to build trust with the potential victim.
- Don’t overshare
Remember that everything you put online – photos, texts, etc. – is in the public domain. You no longer have total control over how it is being seen or shared. Traffickers have used people’s photos and personal details to help them blackmail, contact, groom, or otherwise recruit and monitor victims. Never share personal information, such as your phone number, address, or live location online.
- Beware of advertisements that seem too good to be true
Traffickers often use catchy language in job advertisements online, promising high wages for simple work or a chance to become a model. Traffickers will often be vague about the company’s credentials, details, or your terms of employment. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Flag it, don’t share it!
Stay vigilant in the online sphere and report suspicious pages or activities to the authorities.
Don’t hesitate to unfriend, block or report someone who is harassing you or talking to you in a way you don’t like. Click on the links to see how to block accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and SnapChat.
Take screenshots of the messages or posts – they might be useful later for an investigation or law enforcement.
- Know the warning signs of trafficking
Being aware of the warning signs of trafficking can help you to identify when you or a loved one is at risk of being ‘groomed’ or recruited online.
- Get help or raise the alarm
Many countries have free, confidential resources and helplines for those who have been or are at risk of being trafficked. Make sure to know your National Human Trafficking Hotline.