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New York State is enlisting the help of Facebook in trying to catch online sex traffickers and identify victims.
Under a partnership announced Thursday, the New York Attorney General’s office will work with Facebook to develop algorithms that sift through online ads and identify patterns or characteristics linked to human trafficking. Advertisements' images, words, phone numbers and more will be analyzed. A major focus will be to identify child victims of sex trafficking.
"This is an exciting and important new partnership that will greatly assist our efforts to bring sex traffickers to justice and return their victims to safety," Attorney General Schneiderman said in a statement. "Working with Facebook, we will open a new front in the fight to make online sex trafficking a thing of the past."
Child sex trafficking is a big underground criminal enterprise. Some estimates say as many as 300,000 Americans under 18 are lured into the commercial sex trade each year. Many of those victims will appear online, thinly disguised as adult advertisements.
This isn’t the first time Schneiderman has collaborated with Facebook. Earlier this year, his office joined Facebook in announcing a system that sends AMBER alerts to people’s News Feeds if they are in the targeted search area after a child has gone missing.