snapchat girl
February 15, 2019

How Snapchat Was Used to Groom and Sell a 17-Year-Old Sex Trafficking Victim

Devin Ashford was charged in Lincoln, Nebraska for sex trafficking of a minor and possession of child pornography.

Devin Ashford was arrested for sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl, after the young woman he exploited was able to call her mother for help.

This launched a police investigation, and one month later police got search warrants for cell phones of individuals involved in a prostitution sting.

On those phones, officers found a photo of the 17-year-old girl. It had been sent to several men, advertising her for sex.

The police were finally able to track her down. One report states:

She told investigators that she’d been contacted on the social media app Snapchat by someone using the account name “Deuce,” whom she identified as Ashford. The girl said she then met with Ashford and the other woman, and that he told her to “auction” herself and have sex with men for money.

She said she went on dates and performed sex acts for money, which went to Ashford..Messages exchanged between the two on Snapchat showed them discussing money and dates, the investigator said.

Police did a review of Devin’s social media accounts and found he had been recruiting both adults and juveniles to engage in prostitution..

It’s time to stop ignoring the fact that pornography is being used to advertise for sex trafficking and prostitution on Snapchat.

Tragically, several cases (2016 and 2017 and 2018) of sex trafficking have been linked to sexual predators lurking on Snapchat.

It is an accepted fact, supported by survivors of sex trafficking, that pornographic pictures and videos are used to advertise for both sex trafficking and prostitution victims (including minors.) Further, law enforcement is finding that many sex trafficking victims and child sexual abuse imagery (i.e. child pornography) victims, are coerced into creating live-stream or webcam pornography as well.

It has been documented by law enforcement that pimps and sex traffickers often either coerce trafficking or child abuse victims into making such advertising posts, or the pimp and sex trafficker creates the posts themselves in their victim’s name. This is what was found to happen on Backpage.com—the notorious classifieds ads website that was recently shut down by the Department of Justice for knowingly facilitating sex trafficking ads.

As long as the Snapchat platform fails to proactively remove accounts posting pornography, and failing to remove ads for sex acts (whether recorded, live streamed, or in person) it is impossible to distinguish between those that are allegedly willingly distributing pornographic content and those whose pages are being managed by a sex trafficker or pimp.

You can learn more about additional problems with Snapchat here.

Take Action and Email Snapchat Executives Here:

Haley Halverson

Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach

Haley Halverson is the Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she develops and executes national campaigns to change policies and raise awareness. Most notably, she promotes corporate social responsibility by constructing annual activism campaigns like the Dirty Dozen List, which names 12 mainstream private companies that facilitate sexual exploitation. Her advocacy work has contributed to instigating policy improvements in the native online advertising, retail, and hotel industries.

She is a member of the Washington DC Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, September 2018-2019. This Committee advises DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on the multi-faceted continuum of the District of Columbia’s child welfare services, including prevention, early intervention, treatment, and sources of permanency.

Haley regularly speaks and writes on topics including child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual objectification, the exploitation of males, and more. She has presented before officials at the United Nations, as well as at several national symposia before influencers from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Croatian government officials. She has provided training to Arlington County Child & Family Services on the social media grooming, recruitment, and advertising for sex trafficking. She has a Master of Arts in Government from Johns Hopkins University where she received honors for her thesis regarding the online commercial sexual exploitation marketplace.

Previously, Haley served for two years as Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she oversaw strategic messaging development, press outreach, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Prior to working at NCOSE, Haley wrote for Media Research Center. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) with a double major, and conducted a senior thesis on the abolitionist argument regarding prostitution. During her studies, she studied abroad at Oxford University and established a background in policy research through several internships in the DC area.

Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Times, NBC’s The Today Show, BBC News, New York Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Fox News, San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, Voice of America, Dr. Drew Midday Live, The DeMaio Report, the New York Daily News, the Washington Examiner, USA Radio Network, the Washington Times, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, The Detroit News, Lifezette, The Christian Post, Lifeline with Neil Boron, EWTN News Nightly, KCBS San Francisco Radio, LifeSiteNews, The Drew Mariano Show on Relevant Radio, News Talk KGVO, and American Family News.

She has written op-eds for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, FoxNews.com, Townhall.com, Darling Magazine, the Daytona-Beach News Journal, and has been published in the Journal of Internet Law and the journal Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence.

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