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Dating apps, social media fuel booming online harlotry

Webdesk

WebdeskNov 25, 2021, 02:45 PM IST

Dating apps, social media fuel booming online harlotry

People don't complain or talk to anybody about this because their respect and social recognition are at stake and the group knows how to target their victims.

 

According to a global study, applications like Facebook, Instagram, and Tinder are fueling the "boom in the industry" of online prostitution and sexual exploitation. Prostitution has moved "from the streets to the Internet". People involved in prostitution recruit young women via Snapchat and Instagram before prostituting them in apartments rented on Airbnb, Oyo or private apartments.

With the spurt in social media platforms and the sale of sex shifting online, more and more people involved in prostitution are avoiding detection by using underground websites, social media to sell sex.

The city's escort agencies also use social media to reach their customers to increase their clientele in the digital age. In addition, people from the front end of prostitution give out their cell phone numbers for social media posts. Most of these posts contain illegal images, videos, and links that direct users to other websites with details about the services. Now even small agents have turned to post ads on social media because of the zero cost involved.

The business model is simple, and the agents do not ask questions about the customer's whereabouts, including the name; the first question is when the customer wants the service depending on the requirement while some insist on a face-to-face meeting, many send pictures on Whatsapp. The charges for the service go from Rs 10,000 to Rs 2 00,000, and the people involved in the prostitution who acts as the front end get their fee on every client acquired.

By usually posting and updating their websites, those groups gather more and more customers. They even have mobile apps now, so when you're in a city and want to know if there is a prostitute nearby, you type in your address, and it will give you the locations. So, the technology they are using to market the sale of sex is pretty phenomenal.

People who are involved in prostitution on social media platforms make accounts, and then they start messaging random people with a single "Hi" message or a nude picture, and sometimes they videocall the victim and record the screen so they can be blackmailed. People don't complain or talk to anybody about this because their respect and social recognition are at stake.

They get asked for money, and they pay because there is no other choice than to say yes to their demands. It is not a person or a group, it is a wide chain of networks, and they know how to target their victims. Their biggest weapon in social media indeed.

The report, "Sexual exploitation: New challenges, news answers," checked out tendencies in 35 countries. In India, the dating app Tinder is becoming the most famous device to locate prostitutes. College and school students in cyber cafes can be a part of Whatsapp and Facebook agencies to connect to prostitutes and people involved in prostitution.

Gangs and people from the underworld reach underage females from "welfare houses and excessive schools" on social networks including Facebook and Snapchat, promising "possibilities to make cash very quickly "earlier than posting online classified ads and prostituting them.

Advertisements on dating websites and online forums on the topic of sexuality, but also "websites that are not directly related to this topic" facilitate "concealment, anonymity and discretion ... of these illegal activities," according to a study.

"This is taking place across the world, from restrictive international locations like China, to Germany in which regulation is extra lenient," Yves Charpenel, head of the Foundation Scelles advised AFP.

However, it could be difficult to tune down perpetrators, who conceal in the back of online anonymity and ambiguous classified ads for massages and fine moments.

The business scale of online prostitution lets people involved in prostitution keep away from the non-public risk of growing a distance from their victims.

In recent years, governments have grappled with balancing net freedom and keeping websites answerable for their content.

As the first major step against online pornography networks, CBI raided 76 places across 14 states and detained ten people on November 16. The central agency seized several electronic pieces of equipment like mobile phones, data storage devices and others.
CBI said the racket involves 5000 offenders from around 100 countries while several suspects are from Pakistan, Canada, Bangladesh, United Kingdom, Belgium, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Ghana and Yaman.

The central agency is planning to coordinate with International Child Sexual Exploitation Database to compare the images to trace the origin of the same. It is also coordinating with the sister agencies and with foreign law enforcement agencies for taking further action.

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