WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has been an outspoken advocate against human trafficking.
Now Moody is joining two-dozen other state attorneys general in a fight against social media company Facebook, alleging it is not doing enough to stop human traffickers from exploiting their platform to victimize minors.
“What Facebook is allowing is wholly irresponsible, and we will continue fighting Big Tech to protect our children,” Moody said in a statement Wednesday.
Attorney General Moody filed a legal brief with 24 other attorneys general siding with victims who say Facebook should be held liable for providing an avenue to predators who solicit and even groom minors who fall victim to sex trafficking.
They argue a previous ruling by the Supreme Court of Texas improperly preempts state law and denies compensation to trafficking victims.
The case recently hit a roadblock when the Texas Supreme Court ruled the big tech company had immunity under the federal Communications Decency Act.
“Unfortunately, sex trafficking is very prevalent in Palm Beach County as it is in the rest of the county,” said Director Nicole Bishop of Palm Beach County Victim Services, which leads the county’s Human Trafficking Task Force with the sheriff’s office.
She said Florida is number three in the nation and Palm Beach County is third in Florida.
“The numbers are just overwhelming, in the area right where we live,” Bishop added.
According to Bishop, there’s about 250,000 youths nationwide who are trafficked each year. She claims social media is the prime hunting ground for traffickers who often target teens, and the victims don’t even realize it.
“I think they have such a large voice in the world that they can come out and really do a lot of outreach and education. You just don’t see a lot of that going on,” she said. “We want to take a stand against it, standing up against those big timers like Facebook is something to applauded.”
This is a fight that’s far from over and it’s not just sex trafficking.
The focus of the county’s task force is on labor trafficking in the Glades.
Bishop says there are dozens of migrant workers and undocumented individuals who are prime people to be trafficked. Leaders plan to launch a public awareness campaign soon.