A human trafficking survivor has filed a lawsuit against Facebook, accusing the social media platform of failing to protect her against human trafficking.
The plaintiff, who identified as Jane Doe, said she was befriended by another Facebook user in 2012, who promised her a job as a model. She was just 15 years old at the time. The person, however, allegedly forced her into sex trafficking within hours of meeting her. Doe was beaten up and raped by people who paid the trafficker.
According to the lawsuit, Facebook didn’t make sure users aren’t able to hide their identities from minors who may be targets of traffickers. It accuses the social media platform of negligence and gross negligence, claiming that it violated the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code that says, “A defendant who engages in the trafficking of persons or who intentionally or knowingly benefits from participating in a venture that traffics another person is liable to the person trafficked, as provided by this chapter, for damages arising from the trafficking of that person by the defendant or venture.”
“It was not just because a pimp did something that Jane Doe was trafficked. That pimp is not able to traffic Jane Doe unless Facebook allowed him access to her,” Doe’s lawyer, Annie McAdams, said.
The lawsuit claims that Facebook should have warned the plaintiff about the dangers of online child grooming and recruitment on the platform and hired human trafficking experts to create the awareness campaigns.
“Facebook has the technology to be able to potentially develop algorithms to look for the indicators and the red flags of potential (trafficking) exploitation and abuse,” said Tony Talbott, director of Abolition Ohio, a University of Dayton group that works to combat human trafficking.
Doe is seeking at least $1 million in damages from the lawsuit.