- Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has called on Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear before the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking.
- A conducted statewide survey on social media’s role in human trafficking found that Meta platforms were utilized in 146 out of 271 reported cases,
- Florida is reported to be the third largest center for human trafficking cases in the United States, with the average age of minor trafficking victims being between 12 to 14 years old.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has called upon Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking.
The invitation is issued in response to a survey conducted by the council which found that Meta platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, played a role in facilitating more than half of all recorded human trafficking crimes within the state.
With the participation of 80 law enforcement agencies statewide, including all major sheriff’s offices and police departments, the survey involved an examination of documented instances of social media’s role in abating human trafficking operations. Of the 271 reported cases, 146 were found to have utilized Meta platforms.
“To put this number in perspective, after Meta platforms, the next-highest social media platform used in human trafficking was Snapchat, and it was utilized 19 times, seven times less than Meta platforms,” wrote Moody in her letter to the Meta CEO.
The state findings supplement the 2022 Federal Human Trafficking Report, which identified Facebook, along with its subsidiary Instagram, as the most utilized platforms for recruiting victims between 2019 and 2022.
Moody requests that Zuckerberg respond to her invitation before September 5, with the subsequent council meeting scheduled for October 2.
“Before launching new products or wasting time preparing for a cage match that will likely never happen, Zuckerberg should be working to make Meta’s existing platforms safer for users and to prevent vulnerable people from being forced into illicit sex work,” continued Moody. “The findings of our statewide survey and other reports make it clear that Meta platforms are the preferred social media applications for human traffickers looking to prey on vulnerable people.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a pair of bills into law in May that bolster anti-human trafficking regulations in Florida. The measures increase judicial penalties for traffickers found complicit in the illegal transportation of individuals and establish new guidelines for centers of care.
Senate Bill 7064 grants individuals the right to file a civil cause of action seeking damages and costs from adult entertainment establishments knowingly employing trafficking victims. The legislation also enhances penalties for solicitation or enticement of prostitution, requiring offenders to participate in educational programs highlighting the connection between commercial sex demand and human trafficking.
DeSantis additionally signed House Bill 1465, which adds human trafficking to the list of offenses that make a person eligible for minimum mandatory terms of imprisonment for possessing or discharging a firearm while committing such an offense.
“If you violently force victims into trafficking in this state, you are going to pay a very, very stiff penalty,” remarked DeSantis.
According to data provided in a House analysis of SB 7064, the Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking reports that Florida is the third largest center for human trafficking cases in the United States. The average minor is only 12 to 14 years old when first trafficked for commercial sex purposes, though some trafficking victims have been as young as 9 years old.”