The Crowd Looks Out for Its Own

As the internet evolves, many industries, disciplines, and arts evolve with it. Unfortunately, not all of them moral or legal. Among these industries is the human trafficking trade, which has significantly progressed in terms of its ability to reach out via the internet to source its victims. I didn’t even realize that the city that I live in, Seattle, because of its accessibility as a port town is a hot spot for human trafficking.

However, a recent report released last month by The Technology & Trafficking Initiative says that our methods of combating human trafficking are now evolving as well. Among the numerous approaches and techniques outlined in the report, the Initiative cites crowdsourcing as a potential combatant.  In astonishingly simple ways.

Sites like Craigslist that many people use on a regular basis are also a potential breeding grounds for labor trafficking, but one of the tools already available to users is the ability to flag content that seems suspicious or spam-like. Or a threat to safety for that matter. Apparently 15% of all Craigslist postings are removed through flagging. However, the report suggests that these systems could be even further developed for users to flag or rate on numerous sites and then finding a way to verify such information.

The report also mentioned Ushahidi (a service that we have mentioned in other blog posts) in discussing a crowdsourcing program called Survivors Connect which maps and connects international anti-trafficking organizations and survivors across borders. However – when developing sites like this and asking victims to share their information publically – privacy and protection of information is of the utmost importance.

The Blind Project has thought of another way to connect survivors through the Be a Biographer call for submissions (a contest that ended last month). The invitation was for anyone in the creative community to share the stories of the former victims of human trafficking through designs that will be incorporated into the open-source fashion line of clothing that benefits the survivors. The winning designs were selected and the t-shirts are now available for sale.

What other ways allow us to be part of the solution? Are there other projects that help combat the human trafficking trade?

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