Facebook, Human Trafficking, and The Price of Safety on The Internet

Laura LeMoon
5 min readJul 12, 2021

An Op-Ed by Laura LeMoon

Sex trafficking is an issue that everyone seems to have different opinions on how to solve. The unfortunate reality is that most nonprofits and policymakers doing the work are not survivors themselves, are woefully misguided, and are operating off of “research” rooted in confirmation bias and pseudo-science. Just recently, the Texas Supreme Court is bringing about charges of human trafficking against the mega conglomerate known as Facebook. This might seem shocking, but Congress already paved the way for this in April 2018 with a law called Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), which amended Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 so that for the first time ever, websites could be held liable for third-party content. Most people and organizations — Facebook included — probably didn’t care much at the time because in 2018, SESTA was largely intertwined with the closing of the adult services site Backpage, which primarily affected sex workers.

Until now.

My name is Laura LeMoon and I am a sex worker and sex trafficking survivor. I was trafficked in New York City back in 2004; long before social media and smartphones. I met my would-be pimp on a subway ride from Borough of Manhattan Community College to 86th street on the Upper West Side. While this isn’t about my story, it is about my experience as a sex working and sex trafficking survivor, activist, writer, and consultant, because that has given me unique perspective.

As a sex trafficking survivor, I firstly want to share my unequivocal support for the victims in this suit. I wholeheartedly believe victims of trafficking deserve justice. But this is not the way. It will simply come at too large of a cost to our collective American society. Sex workers were the first to sound the alarm about SESTA back in 2018, and it's important to know what is at stake here, is freedom of speech on the internet. When the Texas State Supreme Court ruled that these victims can and do have the right to sue a website for liability in a criminal act committed against them using their technologies, this was the first time SESTA was able to be used to bring about charges against a website, much less a mega conglomerate website empire such as Facebook.

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Laura LeMoon

As seen in HuffPost, The Daily Beast, Bitch Magazine, Insider, and more. Former peer policy advisor to UNODC, USDOJ, CDC, City of Seattle and WHO.