Social Media Contributes to Growing Online Prostitution Industry

Research from an anti-prostitution group has found that social media and dating apps are playing a major role in the rise of online prostitution and sexual exploitation.

The Paris-based Fondation Scelles published a report titled ‘Sexual exploitation: New challenges, news answers’ that analysed digital trends in 35 different countries.

Gangs are utilising modern technology, including Tinder, Instagram and Snapchat, to contact young girls and promise them the chance to make a lot of money very quickly. Sexual encounters with clients are set up at properties which are rented on Airbnb.

Tinder is considered to be the most popular way to find prostitution services in Israel, while Zambians use Facebook groups to connect in this way.

Head of Fondation Scelles Yves Charpenel said on France24: “This is happening around the world, from restrictive countries like China, to Germany where legislation is more lenient.

“From the same computer, a criminal network can find its ‘products’, advertise to clients, and then launder the money.”

It is also very difficult for law enforcement to track down the offenders because of the way they hide behind anonymous profiles and keep their adverts ambiguous.

Countries around the world are carefully treading the line between keeping internet users safe and introducing overly restrictive regulations. Russian authorities have just instructed Tinder to store user data and be prepared to hand it over to special services upon request.

Sex workers in the US have been complaining that they have had their Tinder accounts banned, despite using the app to find a personal relationship rather than work.

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