Sex trafficking victim suing Facebook

A woman who became a victim of sex trafficking at 15 tells Laurie Segall Facebook should be held responsible. See the story on 60 Minutes+, now streaming on Paramount+.

Sex trafficking survivor shares her story
Sex trafficking survivor shares her story 01:30

Nearly a decade after she was pulled into sex trafficking, a woman is telling her story for the first time. And she says Facebook is responsible.

Laurie Segall interviews the woman, who is being called Jane Doe to protect her identity, for the latest edition of 60 Minutes+.

"I don't have a feeling," Doe says. "I don't feel sad, I don't feel mad, I don't feel happy."

Doe says in 2012, when she was 15 years old, she accepted a friend request on Facebook from a man who was using a fake account.

The two met after the man offered Jane Doe $2,000 a week to model. Doe says he took her to a hotel to take what he called modeling photos. 

"I was basically, like, these are not model pictures. I'm half-naked. I'm in a bra and panties," Doe says. She told us she said she wanted to go home and then he hit her. 

Over the next 12 hours, the man raped Doe and posted explicit photos of her to Backpage, what was at the time the largest online marketplace for prostitution. Doe says men showed up within hours and she was raped multiple times.

Eventually, Doe was able to access a phone and called her mom, who alerted the police. Her trafficker and one of her rapists were arrested, convicted and sent to prison for decades, with Doe providing key testimony at their trials. But Doe says Facebook is partly to blame for what happened to her and thousands of other girls who were victims of sex trafficking.

 "It's unbelievable to me in some ways. It's unimaginable," Doe says. "I have never thought I would be, at 24, suing Facebook."

It's estimated that up to 100,000 minors are sex trafficked in the United States each year. In 2019, nearly 40% of those minors met their traffickers online. According to a report by Statista, Backpage, Craigslist and Facebook were the primary websites used by sex traffickers in the United States from 2015-2019.

That's led Doe and others to file suits against Facebook, claiming product liability and gross negligence. Facebook says it cannot be held liable for these actions by sex traffickers and that "we use technology to thwart this kind of abuse and we encourage people to use the reporting links found across our site."

Nearly a week after 60 Minutes+ asked Facebook to comment on this story, the company announced new safety measures to limit adults from reaching out to minors they're not already connected to on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

See the full report on what DHS is calling a worldwide epidemic on the latest episode of 60 Minutes+, streaming now on Paramount+.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misattributed a statistic to the United States Department of Homeland Security. The statistic of estimated minors sex trafficked in the U.S. each year is derived from 60 Minutes+ reporting.