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Facebook will help New York fight sex trafficking

The tech company is writing code to make it easier to spot human trafficking.


Selena Larson


Posted on Oct 15, 2015   Updated on May 27, 2021, 7:31 pm CDT

Facebook is partnering with the New York attorney general’s office to help fight human trafficking. 

The social network will help the Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s staff learn about and adopt existing technologies to identify and crack down on Internet sex trafficking, specifically online advertisements that appear across the Web, including on sites like Craigslist.

Schneiderman’s office said in a statement that Facebook will help with “pattern analysis of ad language, phone numbers, images, and other data, as well as identification of missing children.” 

The office won’t be using any proprietary Facebook technology, nor will it work on the Facebook platform itself. Rather, the company’s staff will help by creating algorithms that can identify keywords and images that point to evidence of human trafficking. 

Facebook maintains a vast trove of facial data from user photos, as well as machine-learning technologies developed by some of the world’s leading artificial-intelligence researchers. But the company isn’t using those resources in this partnership.

“Facebook is not providing the Attorney General’s office access to its facial recognition software or conducting any facial recognition on its platform as part of this agreement,” a Facebook spokesperson told the Daily Dot in an email. “Instead, Facebook will provide technical assistance to Schneiderman’s staff—at their request—in adopting existing, commercially available technology, that may help find trafficking victims online.”

The sex trafficking partnership is the latest in the company’s collaboration with the New York attorney general. It also works with the office to send out Amber Alerts through the Facebook News Feed to users in the area near the abduction site. 

H/T Fortune | Photo via Chris Isherwood/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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*First Published: Oct 15, 2015, 7:54 am CDT