People are posting fake stories about sex trafficking to get attention on Twitter
It’s not helping
The latest and dumbest trend on your timeline is spreading rumors about sex trafficking that are absolutely, completely untrue. This happened during the disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts, the 20-year-old college student from Iowa, and it's happening again now with a totally false story about a sex trafficking app.
You've probably seen some version of this tweet – an image of a text saying "Someone complimented you! See more on here." The text includes a link to a shitty messaging app made by idiots who thought it would be good to promote their pointless creation through a marketing scheme that sent texts to strangers.
Cue everyone asking to Repost the shit out of this!!!!!! and Please Boost My Tweet To Everyone You Know!!!!!!
"I am not doing this for likes, retweets or even followers," said the person above, who posted this for likes, retweets or even followers. This demonstrably untrue claim about an app that does sex trafficking has been debunked for some time now but that didn't stop over 300,000 people retweeting it. Previous tweets with the "Someone complimented you!" screenshot have been floating around for weeks, making people think they're about to get snatched up by an app used by the gang in Taken.
"I got this the other day. Signal boost this fr," said one terrified Twitter user. "Holy fuck I got this text and just deleted it so thankful I didn’t click the link," added another. There are thousands upon thousands all saying stuff like: "I got this, it’s real girls be safe."
But it's not real! Dr. Eric Sprankle, professor of Sexuality Studies at Minnesota State University, explained: "This isn't how trafficking works in the US. While it's wise not to click on links from unsolicited texts, I can guarantee you it won't lead to being abducted into a sex trafficking ring." His response, with a meagre 65 RTs is getting drowned out by all the people saying there is an app that will literally traffic you (there isn't).
Still, there are thousands of people sharing other stories about trafficking and other weird sexual crimes that they want you to share on social media.
ATTENTION EVERYONE CAMPING OUT IN NYC FOR THE TODAY SHOW TOMORROW:
there is a man recording some girls in line and he is suspected of human trafficking. PLEASE be safe and be on the lookout for him or anything suspicious. if you have to, call the cops.
— nikki (@hookedtae) September 3, 2018
ATTENTION LADIES!! there is sex trafficking going on in corpus!! it’s crazy how it could be so close to home!! y’all be safe and watch out for surroundings!! NEVER GO OUT ALONE GIRLS!! STAY SAFE!!
— amarí (@_amirose1) September 5, 2018
Ladies: There is a man with a poop fetish matching with girls on Tinder in NY and DC, taking them out on dates and spiking their food w/ laxatives… be safe!
— Tatiana P. (@_tatianap) July 31, 2018
The same happened back in July, when hysterical tweets claimed 40 young people had been kidnapped in Iowa and that the power of God would recover a missing college student.
Today on my way home, I prayed for Mollie Tibbetts. When I prayed for her return I got a sudden rush of calmness and major goosebumps. God is working, keep praying.
— Joclyn Bushman (@joclynclare) July 24, 2018
Sex trafficking is a huge issue – it's prevalent yet underreported, going on across the US and poorly understood. But these fake tweets about it are no different than the extremely bullshit emails your mom sends about how not to flash your headlights at passing cars (because it's a gang initiation and they will kill you) or syringes being hidden under cinema seats (because they have AIDS in them and will kill you) or the recording of a crying baby being played outside your door, which is a serial killer's scheme to lure you out (also to kill you).
Obviously the idea that someone is trying to ensnare you in a sex trafficking ring is terrifying. That's why exploiting those fears for clout is low as hell – it's spreading lies and stopping people from understanding the real issue, which is now being ignored because someone wanted more retweets. Good work.