Saturday, December 17, 2011

Google "Fights" Human Trafficking? Evidence Points to Big Problems on the Site

To the multitudes of anti-human trafficking charities in America, the news out of Google’s executive offices on Wednesday seemed like an enormous triumph. Even as they continue to push each other aside in a desperate effort to acquire ever decreasing donations, many of the self-proclaimed “abolitionist” non-profits cheered at Google’s $11.5 million gift to “fight modern day slavery.”

It is, no doubt, a lovely gesture from one of America’s strongest and richest corporations. And though most anti-trafficking organizations won’t be getting a dime from Google, many expressed gratitude on their endless, blogs, Tweets, and Facebook pages. “Thanks to Google for Giving $11.5 Million to Fight Human Trafficking!” was typical of the reports flooding social media.

And certainly, the giddiness did not end with these charities. Forbes Magazine instantly reported the news saying, “Google donated over $11 million to fight modern-day slavery, continuing its ‘don’t be evil’ mantra by helping people in need.” Echoing the claims made by Google themselves, Forbes further stated that “The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said its gift will ‘free more than 12,000 people from modern-day slavery’ and prevent ’millions more from being victimized.’”

No one, anywhere, is able to substantiate those numbers. But, that’s not the point. Certainly the money will do some good. But, is this where Google should be starting their efforts against human trafficking? It doesn’t take long to discover that they have important work to do much closer to home, closer than any of those who are congratulating them are aware.

A search for English  language “Escort Services” on Google +, Google’s social networking platform, reveals a total of 345 thinly veiled prostitution sites actively seeking clients. Many of the 345 Google+ pages link to thousands of other pages blatantly advertising prostitution services, which often belong to the human trafficking category of commercial sexual exploitation. This crime is frequently referred to more sensationally by the media and donation hungry charities as “Sex Trafficking.”

Yes, there is Sex Trafficking on Google.

Need proof? Take a look at these examples, but be cautious if you are around children or at work:     Example #1   Example #2Example #3
Example #4
Example #5

Further searches in English, conducted on the same day as Google’s donation announcement, reveal far more. And many of the results harshly contradict Google’s aforementioned “mantra.” For instance, a search of Google’s “Blogspot” blog engine for “Escort Services” found 291,000 results:
1.      Example #1
2.      Example #2
3.      Example #3
4.      Example #4
5.      Example #5

Google’s anti-slavery grants will support the good works of International Justice Mission, Not For Sale and the BBC World Service Trust among others, with a large part going to ActionAid India. The money given to ActionAid is meant to fight human trafficking in the world’s second most populated country. Yet, here are some of the 17,000 India based “Escort Service” Google Blogs:
1.      Example #1
2.      Example #2
3.      Example #3
4.      Example #4
5.      Example #5

Not one of the charities that patted Google on the back when the multi-million dollar donation announcement was made will agree with the contradictions revealed in this article – even the ones who won’t get any cash. And this creates another glaring hypocrisy. Just over one year ago, many of these same charities derided Craigslist for their “Escort/Adult” ads and refused to take donations from them. Today, the same bandwagon is launching missiles at Village Voice Media for their Backpage.com “Escort” ads. So why not criticize Google for doing the very same thing? Why not refuse their donations the way the Minneapolis-based group, The Advocates for Human Rights did when Craigslist tried to give them $25,000? (Their courageous Board politely turned it down, stating they “cannot accept the funds because Craigslist generates a high percentage of its profits from adult ads. This market fuels the human sex trafficking industry. It is the exploitive behavior resulting from these ads that makes our efforts necessary.”)

Why? Because they literally can’t afford to. Google’s checkbook is just too big for them to criticize the company. And few, if any, of the charities are bothering to look at the evidence that puts Google in the same category – a category the charities themselves established – as Craigslist and Backpage. The most disturbing explanation is that the charities claiming to be on the “frontlines in the battle against human trafficking” have no idea that Google is still fighting on the wrong side.

But they will try to explain their adoration of Google. The typical excuses include, but are in no way limited to: “We were aware of the problem and are working on it.” “We are in discussions with them about this.” “Google is taking steps to . . .” If any of these were true, why did the examples listed above take less than four minutes to locate?

Someday, an organization will come along that will have the courage to fight human trafficking on all fronts, no matter who it offends. Someday, the victims of human trafficking will have an ally that is brave enough to stand up to the criminals perpetrating these crimes and the corporations who are deeply complicit in them.

The criticism aimed at this article is proof that day has not yet arrived.

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