Sex workers are openly using Facebook, Twitter and other social media to openly advertise their services.Prostitutes and escort agencies have created hundreds of unrestricted pages on Facebook, causing concern that children are being exposed to both explicit content as well as the services of the sex industry.
Many of the pages include explicit photographs, descriptions of services alongside phones numbers, addresses and prices.
Facebook has removed dozens of the pages after being contacted by The Times newspaper.
The site said it “has a clear set of rules and these pages broke them”, but said it could only take action when offensive items were reported to them by members of the public.
The postings were also reported to Twitter, but the microblogging site declined to comment or take action. Under the company’s rules, content would need to be illegal to be considered in breach of its terms and conditions.
The concern over prostitution follows recent complaints that crimes involving Facebook and Twitter have increased 780 per cent over the last four years.
This included offenses committed on the sites, such as posting abusive messages, and those which were provoked by postings, including violent attacks.
But researchers said police forces refused to tackle the issue of prostitution because of the perception that it is a “victimless crime”. According to The Times, a parliamentary committee on prostitution has pledged to investigate the problem after the revelations.
The researchers said that, in the past, the calling cards of prostitutes had littered the walls of phone boxes, but social networks had become a more common way to attract clients.
Facebook said that it encourages people “to use the reporting tools on almost every page of the site so we can take swift action against content or behaviour that breaks our rules.”
Mills Kelly, from George Mason University in the US, who has studied the impact of the internet on prostitution, said: “If you want an escort or sex worker in any major city in the world, Facebook is a good place to start your search.”
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