TraffickCam App Aims to Stop Sex Trafficking

TraffickCam App Aims to Stop Sex Trafficking

TraffickCam enables travelers to document hotel rooms across the country to provide a database for investigators of human trafficking. (Photo provided by Pixabay.)
The International Labor Organization estimates that 4.5 million people are trapped in sex trafficking globally, but the TraffickCam app plans to combat these numbers with the help of its users–you.
 The app lets users upload pictures of various hotel rooms they stay in during vacation, business trips, etc. This creates a database of hotel room images for investigators to search through when they receive a photo of a hotel where sex trafficking has taken place. They can then figure out where it’s coming from and take action.
Sex traffickers will take pictures of their victims in hotel rooms for online advertisements, however, these images leave investigators with little to no information on location.  However, with a data base full of user uploaded hotel room images with location, they can compare images, locate where it’s happening, and stop it. The app has over 1.5 million images.

“Right now there are pictures posted every day. Hundreds of pictures, in every city around the United States, posted online, that show victims of trafficking, in hotel rooms posed on beds,” the apps developer Abby Stylianou said at a human trafficking event.

The app was formed by Washington University and the Exchange Initiative.

The idea for the app formed when police approached Nix Conference and Meeting Management, the company that runs the Exchange Initiative, to try to identify where a photo they found of a sex trafficking victim online was taken. One member of the staff could tell where it was, and they wondered how many others might have information.

There were 22 cases off human trafficking reported in Oklahoma between January and March of 2016 in Oklahoma. Of those cases, 16 of them were female, six were males, and two were gender minorities. Oklahoma has a convenient transportation system for human trafficking due to the highway system.

There are various other ways you can help fight human trafficking while traveling:

  1. Only stay in hotels that have adopted the Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct.  When tourism companies join this initiative, they’re agreeing to take multiple steps to help protect children from training employees to promoting a zero tolerance for the exploitation of children.The goal of this code is to create a tourism industry that is very aware of human trafficking. 
  2. Report all signs of trafficking to management. Signs of trafficking children include children who seem afraid to answer questions and look to the adult they’re with instead, adults with minors who do not appear to be their children, and strangers coming in and out of hotel rooms.
  3. Download the TraffickCam app for free in the app or the Google Play store and start taking pictures of the various hotel rooms you stay in.

There are also various ways to protect yourself against human trafficking including being wary of appealing job opportunities, especially those outside of the country, avoiding employment opportunities through the internet, leaving contact information with friends/family while traveling, and being aware of your surroundings in locations like truck stops and airports.

If you want to report any kind of human trafficking you can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1 (888) 373-7888. You can also text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733.

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