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:

National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health crisis of pornography.

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