FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE

“Social” Media, Human Trafficking, and other Crimes

February 8 is the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking.  On January 31, 2024, Senate members grilled social media executives about their direct complicity in causing harm and death particularly to children and teens (https://www.forbes.com/sites/petersuciu/2024/02/02/social-media-ceos-were-grilled-by-lawmakers-but-dont-expect-anything-to-change/?sh=40eb5c70397a).  How are human trafficking and social media related?  For the simple proven reason that social media companies play an enormous role in the unprecedented risk to children and teens being targeted, duped, and enslaved into human trafficking, along with other crimes committed against young people.     

A quick look through any search engine will reveal the overwhelming evidence stacked up against social media for doing damage to children and teens (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/modern-day-slavery/201911/social-media-platforms-help-promote-human-trafficking).  Yet all the bigwigs who run social media companies — which make billions of dollars on ads and clicks — feign complete or near complete helplessness when it comes to stopping human traffickers and other bad actors operating virtually unimpeded on their sites.  In particular, Zuckerberg’s apology to victims at the Senate’s January 31 hearing doesn’t merely ring hollow; it is a slap in the face to every victim of cyber crime.

Can social media companies stop the deluge of illegal posts, fake pages and fake identities, and the wide assortment of criminal activities that flourish so abundantly on their sites?  The answer can be found by looking at how rapidly each one of them targets and censors copious amounts of conservative political, scientific, and religious content posted to their sites.  Case in point:  Quite a while back I posted on a social media site a very brief statement that made reference to credible, competent, and objective scientific research results on a “hot” topic.  My post simply referenced that research and I did not attack anyone or make any kind of comment that could be even remotely perceived as snarky, or as “disinformation”, or in violation of any social media’s professed terms of service.  Yet I was immediately banned from the site within a minute after making my post.  Not merely warned.  Banned.  In less than a minute.  Apparently, my brief reference to scientific research results violated that site’s untenable “woke” ideology, verifiable and objective facts be damned.  So don’t tell me that these social media giants cannot create the algorithms to just as quickly target human traffickers and other criminals on their social media sites who flagrantly and with impunity violate these social media sites’ terms of service agreements and endanger both children and adults.  The reality is the social media executives and their companies’ underlings are themselves the biggest violators of their own terms of service agreements.  They know full well how prolific these criminals are on their sites and they also know full well that these criminals are a significant source of all the scandalous amounts of money these social media companies make on ads and clicks related to all the criminal activity freely conducted on their sites.  Every. Single. Day.

Although it is important that Senate members hit the executives of social media companies hard in their January hearing over the damage they’ve done to children and teens, there are plenty of adults — like myself — who have also suffered damage from cyber crimes committed using social media sites.  As I have described in my book, my websites, and in my previous blog articles, my brother Ken Parks (Pastor Ken Parks, Pastor Max, etc.) started in late 2000 his cyber stalking, cyber defamation, and cyber threat campaign against me, our mother, his ex-wife and her husband, his former friends, former classmates, former employers and co-workers, the police, and basically just about everyone.  His incendiary online defamation that he’s posted for over two decades against me and our mother included outrageous accusations that we were convicted child abusers, domestic terrorists, and wanted fugitives.  Using these same lies, he contacted both my employer and my husband’s employer trying to get us fired from our jobs.  At one point I was able to get an arrest warrant for harassment issued against my brother Ken when we still lived in Connecticut based largely on his online criminal activity, but since he lived in Georgia the authorities in Connecticut wouldn’t “put out the money” to extradite him, even after Ken posted death threats online against us.  Ken’s cult goons who believed all the online lies he posted on social media sites did his bidding as their “pastor” to stalk and harass us at our home in Connecticut and later at our home in Tennessee.  We contacted social media companies repeatedly yet very rarely did they remove any of Ken’s posts which unequivocally violated their terms of service agreements — a common problem other victims of cyber crimes told us they likewise experienced with their complaints to social media companies.  Every attorney we spoke to told us that Section 230 of the 1996 federal Communications Decency Act protects social media companies from lawsuits for knowingly posting defamatory statements and criminal activity for all the world to see, such as Ken posted against us.  Due to Ken’s aggressive cyber crimes against us and the fact that he has made himself a limited purpose public figure, attorneys advised us to post websites defending our innocence and provide documentation of Ken’s arrest and conviction records and other court records of all the lawsuits he filed (without an attorney) and lost against his victims, as well as samplings of his own disturbing online posts (see the table of contents on www.stopabusivelawsuits.com).  Since doing so, our websites that include copies of our court judgments and injunctions against Ken have significantly shut him up and shut him down from his daily defamation and threat campaign against us and others, and have succeeded somewhat in warning the public about who Ken really is.  By Ken’s own online publicized admissions, he has lost followers, due most likely in part to our websites but also due to his own dazzling, domineering personality that sooner or later grates on most people.  To one social media company’s credit, due to people’s complaints, as we found out later, they very quickly shut down Ken’s efforts to obtain donations from the public.  We can only hope that the documented facts of our websites have played a role in providing people the information needed to prevent more of his online scams.  But unfortunately Ken still maintains an online presence, continuing periodically to violate terms of service agreements by his offensive posts, and putting the public at risk of being victimized by his fraudulent claims and his cyberstalking and smear campaigns. 

Our nightmare is just one example of the unmitigated harm that unaccountable social media companies are doing to the global population.  So many tragic deaths by suicide or murder due to the lawless wasteland created by social media companies.  All this damage to human souls from online defamation, cyberstalking, fraud, sextortion, human trafficking, pornography, drug trafficking, organized rioting, snuff film trafficking, planned school shootings, death threats, singular and organized terrorism — all of this can be stopped or at least meaningfully reduced.  Before social media companies existed, if newspapers or broadcast radio or TV (other forms of media) published the kind of horrific and criminal activity that defines so much of anti-social “social” media, those media companies’ and their executives would have been sued out of existence and faced criminal charges.  As I wrote in my book Fighting for Justice:  Religious Fraud, Mental Illness, and the Collapse of Law & Order, it is long past due that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act be repealed.

Efforts are underway by individuals and state governments to challenge Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.  Starting in December 2022 and continuing into 2023, over 1,200 families have filed lawsuits against social media companies for illegal content these companies knowingly allowed on their sites to detrimentally impact children and teens, as well as targeting young people with addictive content and usage that has damaged or destroyed the lives of children and teens (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/social-media-lawsuit-meta-tiktok-facebook-instagram-60-minutes-2022-12-11/).  Various law firms now specialize in filing lawsuits against social media companies and individuals on their sites for their active role in a variety of unethical tactics and crimes committed against people (for example https://socialmediavictims.org/sexual-violence/human-trafficking/).  In October 2023, the majority of our states — red and blue alike — filed lawsuits against one particular social media giant due to the devastation this company has inflicted upon children and teens (https://www.npr.org/2023/10/24/1208219216/states-sue-meta-claiming-instagram-facebook-fueled-youth-mental-health-crisis).  A bill has been proposed in Florida’s 2024 legislative session that seeks to override the federal Communications Decency Act’s Section 230 (https://www.wmfe.org/politics/2024-02-05/bill-challenging-media-defamation-standards-moving-through-florida-legislature).

The takeaway from this blog article?  Parents, safeguard your children and teens from social media sites.  When I was teaching I used to call the first day back to class after the weekend psychotherapy day since I usually had to spend some degree of time trying to get my teenage students calmed down and focused after coming to school in emotional turmoil due to all the crap posted online about them on social media sites.  Since social media companies’ executives refuse to do what is good for society and the global community due to their destructive ideologies and their lust for profits, we adults need to set an example to young people by either not being on social media sites or significantly limiting interactions on social media sites, and making sure our posts are helpful, decent, and not abusive — in other words, post in the same way we interact with people face-to-face such as with our neighbors, fellow members at our place of worship, co-workers, or employer.  My message to legislators and other policy makers, public servants in the judiciary, and private attorneys is this:  Do more to go on the attack against social media companies’ executives and hold them civilly and criminally accountable for this phenomenal, unprecedented destruction they’ve wreaked and continue to wreak upon our citizens and the global population. 

Since social media companies’ executives refuse to do what’s right, then it’s the responsibility of each one of us to do better.  Let’s rise to the challenge.

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© Copyright 2021 Paulette J. Buchanan