Just over a year ago, we wrote to you with bated breath about the problem of websites like Backpage.com that knowingly facilitated sex trafficking and prostitution. One organization that serves survivors of sexual exploitation stated that approximately half of the survivors they work with were trafficked online. The National Center on Missing and Exploited Children has reported that 73% of all child sex trafficking cases its handled involved Backpage.com. Yet, inexplicably, our law had a loophole that let these sex trafficking websites get away with it!

We wrote to you with pleas for support, and because you responded, we were able to
help pass the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (sometimes known as FOSTA-SESTA) which made these websites accountable!

“Big Tech” (major technology companies) was not happy—Google and others had funded our opposition. We know they will likely attempt to file a lawsuit against this new law, and our lawyers at the NCOSE Law Center are already working to prepare so that we are ready for them!  But I don’t have to tell you that litigation in federal courts is expensive – very expensive.

At the same time, our battle to make safe online spaces for children is only gaining momentum!

Donors like you have made a difference in the past on these kinds of efforts. Will you respond again, and help us make progress?

Additionally, we have an exciting update for you on this:

We are scheduled to meet with Snapchat executives in just a few days! Snapchat—one of the most popular phone apps for tweens and teens—is a photo sharing app that often is used to share pornography or to advertise sex trafficked and prostituted victims because of the fact that photos will “disappear” after a few moments.

Just earlier this year, a young woman from Nebraska was contacted on the social media app Snapchat by someone using the account name “Deuce.” The girl said she then met with him, and he then forced her to “auction” herself, often using Snapchat, and have sex with men for money.  This is a frequent problem on Snapchat.

It wasn’t until months latter that the young woman was able to find a phone and call her mother for help.

The police found that this sex trafficker had been recruiting both adults and juveniles into sex trafficking through Snapchat.

Here’s something else that will shock you: Snapchat also exposes kids as young as 13-years-old to hypersexualized articles, curated by Snapchat, with headlines like “Planning to Have Sex on Prom Night? Make Sure to Do This First” and “Six-Word Advice for Anyone About to Lose Their Virginity” and “The Etiquette of Oral Sex.”  That outrages me and I  now you feel the same.

We are bringing these concerns–and many more–directly to Snapchat headquarters in Washington DC, and we have high hopes to walk away with victories and improvements in the works!

This is incredible!  And it comes on top of our recent meeting with executives from Instagram (another very popular app for youth) where we were able to demonstrate how
Instagram is used by large numbers of predators and sex traffickers to target children.

You can take credit for these meetings and the progress we made on your behalf because we are only able to make change because of your generosity.

Will you continue to support and be a part of this crucial work with your most generous contribution today?

Progress is happening so quickly on these issues! But that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. We need your generous and immediate financial support during our fall campaign to push forward and make a difference, together.

Thankful to serve with you in this movement,

Dawn Hawkins

Sr. Vice President & Executive Director

National Center on Sexual Exploitation