Expert: Conspiracy Theories Make It Harder To Fight Real Sex Trafficking

March 7, 2021

QAnon and other sex traffic conspiracy theories on social media have made it more difficult to do legitimate work for those working to support victims, according to an expert on Wednesday night.

Shea M. Rhodes, the director and co-founder of the Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial and Sexual Exploitation, was a special guest speaker for the Transitions of PA’s Human Trafficking Awareness Night via Zoom on Wednesday. The live discussion on dangerous narratives coincided with January being Human Trafficking Awareness Night.

“It has become incredibly dangerous,” said Rhodes. “Human trafficking has taken center stage over the past few months. We started noticing an uptick in July on social media. It’s quite upsetting and completely wrong. Misinformation is rampant on social media, the internet and even news networks. It’s important we debunk this information so people can understand the reality and the harm that is caused by false narratives.”

QAnon, whose followers recently made headlines by taking part in a siege of the Capitol on Jan. 6, is a far-right conspiracy theory group that falsely believes the government is secretly controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile cannibals. Rhodes said QAnon has politicized a historically bi-partisan issue.

The #SaveTheChildren movement makes it increasingly difficult to discern who truly cares about child exploitation and who is interested in spreading falsities. It diverts time and resources from legitimate anti-trafficking groups, and QAnon encourages followers to pursue acts of vigilante justice, said Rhodes.

“We are spending a huge amount of time answering people putting things on our social media,” she said. “Our time, our resources are completely hijacked.”

Read the full article by Justin Strawser on The Daily Item.

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