Traffic

I don’t know if anybody on here is aware of this or not but many people suspect that there is a whole world of human trafficking through the most popular websites. People have been talking about this for years. Here’s one recent thread.

It reads like a conspiracy theory at first but then it gets very overwhelming because there’s a limit to how many coincidences one can process. The one with the baby doll is especially horrible.

What do you think? True or a baseless conspiracy theory?

23 thoughts on “Traffic”

  1. Perhaps we’re not seeing the same posts but there seem to be only 2-3 very far-fetched coincidences in that thread. What’s the full story here?

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  2. On a theoretical level, I know this probably happens– you’ve got an easy, secure, payment platform that almost anyone can use– I’ve sold a lot of my old books through amazon– and as long as you are the “shipper”, and the price tag is outlandishly high for the fake item you’ve listed, you’re unlikely to get accidental purchases— particularly if you include an additional check-step after payment: many amazon third-party sellers will send you an email right after you buy something “Thank you! Please remember to leave a rating!”. It would be easy to include info in that email to say, basically, “hey, we’re out of stock, we’ll refund your order, contact us…” to get a verification for an illicit sale, without leaving a paper trail. And there are probably all manner of illicit sales going on there, if you know the right keywords to search: people, drugs, weapons, whatever. Amazon doesn’t have any way to verify what third-party sellers are actually selling. For them, it’s just “hey, anyone can use our payment platform!”

    On a practical level… the Wayfair thing. I immediately believed that one. Not just because of the posted video, which is creepy as hell, but because when I first encountered Wayfair through a FB ad, and clicked through to it… the whole site just seemed weird and illogical. Like, here’s an ad featuring some cool stuff you’ll like, but no, you can’t look at our catalog unless you sign up for an account with us? And then… the selection of things they sell is so weird and nonsensical, and oddly and inconsistently priced… nope. At the time, I spent days cogitating over Wayfair, because it was obvious that there was SOMETHING MISSING. Some information I didn’t have. And it bothered me a lot. Like, what is the marketing plan here? Why? Eventually I concluded that it must be something like Kohl’s (which is evil): “relationship marketing” which basically means “sign up for our mailing list and we’ll send you promos and coupons forever” and only 20% of items are ever sold at the original price, because the original price is fake. Once you spend hours carefully piecing together your special discount coupons, you can buy things for WHOA 90% OFF!!! But if you comparison-shop for an equivalent item at a store that doesn’t use that kind of shyster marketing, you will find that the SOOPER SALE price at Kohl’s about matches the regular price at, say, Walmart. But I was never totally satisfied with that explanation. The pieces don’t all fit.

    If you are a strictly rational person, skip this part, but: Kohl’s has been using grossly unethical marketing to snare compulsive shoppers for so long now, that the entire chain has developed what I can only describe as a nasty psychic personality. To me, when I walk into their stores (any location!), I feel spiritually oppressed. Not kidding. From the moment I walk in, all I want to do is walk back out. Leave. Leave. Get out. Go now. Escape. Everything inside feels unnaturally slow, toxic, and sort of oily. Hostile. And I find this bizarre, because what the heck could possibly be hostile about… cookware and clothing? It doesn’t make any sense! I relate this story only to say that on visiting Wayfair’s website, I got the same feeling. The Kohl’s feeling. I don’t know much about their sales model, but I could easily believe that they are knowingly engaged in trafficking, OR that they simply have a platform that is exploitable, and attracts that same kind of negative energy. And none of that is based on any kind of rational evidence– I hesitate to try to explain it to people I know (but hey, this is the internet!). Except this: from what I saw of their website, I don’t think there’s any way that Wayfair is a company with supply chains and warehouses. The number and type of things for sale there is too broad, and too wildly unrelated. Expensive sheets, furniture… and cute sheds and chicken coops? That has to be a third-party seller platform. So at a guess: “exploitable”.

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  3. But FYI, the doll thing: no, that’s totally legit. There are a whole bunch of creepy-ass people who collect extremely-realistic looking dolls. There are even conventions… I’ve got no grudge against artists who make a living that way. But the customers give me the willies. (shudder!).

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  4. Ugh, that’s seriously ugly if true. But I don’t know. Tried some of those searches myself and saw no funny results. Could be my filter bubble. We should remember that screenshots can be doctored.

    Looks like snopes did some fact checking on them too: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/wayfair-trafficking-children/

    I’ve bought stuff from wayfair before. The discount pricing is annoying but no worse than any other store of this sort. And the things I bought were fairly priced, good quality and delivered on time.

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  5. What if this is trolls from 4chan planting a fake trail on these sites and then ‘leaking’ the story for lulz? 🙂

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    1. Absolutely, this can be a fake. I hope it is a fake. God, I so hope it’s a fake.

      Another issue here is that if this rings true to so many people is because there is a widespread feeling that human trafficking isn’t getting enough attention. It definitely exists. We all know that. But his much attention does it get, especially compared to completely inane stuff we keep discussing? So maybe this is a way somehow to turn attention in that direction.

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  6. ” human trafficking through the most popular websites”

    I’m sure something like that happens given the number of willing customers… I’m not sure if these are the exact examples, but… yeah, of course it happens.

    For years the conspiracy crazies have spoken of pedophile rings among the “elite” and the last few years have done nothing to discredit the idea….
    With the whole Epstein thing a tip of a giant structure came briefly into view… and the media establishment has done everything it can to not notice it, much less explain it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True, this is something that can’t be denied or confirmed without proper investigation. It sits right at the border of the crazy and the improbable-but-true.

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      1. “can’t be denied or confirmed without proper investigation”

        On old trick is that if you want to discourage… scrutiny you surround whatever it is you’re trying to hide with several layers including a good amount of nonsense (this was also used in one of the Miss Marple novels) so that the whole thing looks too ridiculous to take seriously….

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    2. This. Given a venue, criminal enterprises will find a way to use it. One of the hairy aspects of illegal transactions has always been payment: if you want to buy something illegal, how do you trust a criminal to give you what you want, and not just take your money and throw you off a bridge? Sites like Amazon, Etsy, Ebay, whatever… make payments between strangers relatively safe. Of course criminals are using them!

      Now, once you know that, you can then go searching and trip completely over the edge on basic pattern-recognition error. If you look at the comment thread linked, you see a bunch of people commenting that… yeah, putting in the sku code for this weird item on Amazon brings up pictures of kiddos on yandex. But also that you can put in any sku code from anything anywhere, and come up with kiddie pics on yandex. So maybe that says more about yandex than about the Amazon listings.

      Like many conspiracy things… I think the basic premise is correct: mainstream websites are being exploited by criminals to facilitate anonymous payments for illegal sales. But that’s not the same thing as saying those sites know about it, or were set up for that purpose. Or that any weirdly-priced listing is a crime in progress that needs to be investigated by the FBI. Maybe. But probably not.

      Still… there’s something seriously wrong with Wayfair. I just don’t know exactly what.

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  7. I have no doubt that human trafficking is real and that horrible things are being done to women and children on a daily basis. But there is something “off” about lots of recent concern about human trafficking. I have encountered a couple of people who are convinced that every child and young woman is at constant risk of being trafficked when they are out in public, that the problem is absolutely massive with hundreds or thousands of trafficking victims in every large US city, and that people need to be on constant alert (at gas stations, fast food restaurants, Wal-Mart, etc.) for signs that children they encounter are victims of trafficking. I just don’t see how this could be that widespread, there would have to be way more missing children and hundreds of thousands of adults involved in keeping it all secret. It reminds me a little of the the Satanic Ritual Abuse panic back in the 1980s.

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    1. The number of supposedly-trafficked kids seems to exceed the number reported missing, so there’s that. Also, stranger abductions are exceedingly rare, and have gotten less common in recent years, not more. On the other hand, this is the age of internet– and I find it plausible that at least a portion of those remaining abductions really are for the resale market. Soulless people who, thirty years ago, wouldn’t have had a way to profit from a pretty child or teenaged runaway, now have access to a worldwide market through any internet connection. It does happen. It just doesn’t happen nearly as often as people think it happens.

      Most kids who are trafficked enter the market through far more prosaic channels: they are sold by their parents. They are mostly not reported missing, and often they aren’t missing: they are still living with mom or dad. If you look at accounts of people caught and convicted for making explicit content involving children (and I don’t recommend it)– that’s how a lot of them get access (CBC’s “Hunting Warhead” has a bit to say about this). I went to school with two such girls. Their mother was a crack addict, and rented them out to support her habit. Social services had been involved repeatedly with the family, but apparently couldn’t muster enough evidence to take the kids away (thus began my lifelong disgust with/distrust of Child Protection Services). Eventually, the older one ran away. Never found out anything further about the younger: I do a records search every year or two to see if anything turns up. I hope they’re still alive? I don’t know.

      I found out about the older one’s escape from an article in a crappy local paper: the mother had called up the paper and told some sob story to a sympathetic reporter who never asked any critical questions (a very simple records search would have revealed that bio-dad was a registered pedo offender, that there had been a third sister, deceased in a freak household accident… any reporter worth his salt would have had questions about this) and there was the headline: “Local mother begs for help getting daughter home” or somesuch. I thought I would barf when I read it. She’d gone to live with a fifty-year-old man. She was seventeen. I hope he treated her better than her mom did. In my fantasy alternate-reality scenario, she left town, changed her name, became a palm reader, and is now living happily in Idaho. Probably not. But it’s telling that the police were not willing to intervene.

      I heard from a group of nuns who run a rehab program for trafficked women, that the average age at which girls are first trafficked is 11, and due to the drugs and working conditions, average lifespan after they enter the market is under ten years. It think it’s good that the problem is getting increased scrutiny, but probably scaring regular parents with lurid tales about stranger-abductions is unwarranted.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It’s ignorant to the way human trafficking actually works in America. Generally they don’t snatch random women and girls and throw them in the back of a van. They target vulnerable people who won’t be missed (immigrants, teen runaways, addicts, etc.) and lure them in. They may be lied to about the kind of work they’re going to do, then trapped. And then there’s the common “boyfriend pimp,” who starts a relationship with a young teen girl and gradually coerces her into prostitution. She thinks of him as her boyfriend so she wants to please him, but he’s really just her pimp. Someone definitely doesn’t have to be a missing person to be trafficked. They may not be missing at all, and if they are, there’s a good chance nobody has noticed.

      Generally, the daughters of the panicked suburban moms who worry about this kinda thing are unlikely to be trafficked. It technically can happen to anyone, but it’s not super likely. A teen girl with strong family support is an unlikely target. Ethylhexyl covers it pretty well.

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    3. Here are some cases of trafficking from Ohio (a state with a big human trafficking problem.) One case is about men paying evil, drug addicted mothers for the chance to abuse their children. The other case is about a judge accused of using his power to take advantage of vulnerable women (generally addicts.) None of these people would’ve been missing.

      https://www.wsaz.com/2020/06/24/9-in-scioto-county-indicted-on-federal-charges-connected-to-child-sex-trafficking/

      https://www.cincinnati.com/in-depth/news/2019/03/21/sex-trafficking-trapped-and-trafficked-portsmouth-ohio/2839816002/

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  8. Regarding trafficed things, Matt Taibbi wrote

    “Just this week U.S. customs seized 13 tons of human hair farmed from the heads of Uighur political prisoners in Chinese labor camps: we gave that country Most Favored Nation Trading status eons ago.”

    From

    Year Zero
    On America’s birthday, celebrating the corporate-sponsored revolution
    https://taibbi.substack.com/p/year-zero

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  9. The other brilliant commenters on this blog have pretty much said everything I was going to, but I’ll share my views anyway. I absolutely think that sites that let anyone set up a little e-shop (ebay, Amazon, rakuten, etc.; I think Wayfair might be one of these sites) have some illegal sales on the sly, though not necessarily a lot. This does not imply any direct involvement from the companies involved, or even any knowledge of the illegal activity; you can’t catch everything.

    However, many details of the Wayfair theory seem implausible to me. Why would you list the names of actual missing children? Seems stupid. Also, people are suggesting that the children are being shipped in boxes; this is too stupid to even be engaged with (not that this detail being wrong debunks the whole thing.) In general, I think most human trafficking happens either in person or in more covert online places (the dark net, etc.) In addition, I’m unclear which screenshots are legit and which ones are doctored.

    I lean toward this Wayfair theory being untrue. However, the way the media dismisses it with zero investigation prevents me from doing any more than leaning. I saw a headline that said “Wayfair confirms there is ‘no truth’ to conspiracy theories about human trafficking.” In other news, Alan Dershowitz claims he and his good friend Jeffrey Epstein never abused any children! Guess that settles it!

    My own personal conspiracy theory is that somewhat silly conspiracy theories relating to trafficking are planted to make people dismiss the possibility entirely. Like the pizzagate stuff sounded really dumb, so people started ignoring anything about the Clintons and pedophilia/trafficking (while in reality, the Clintons did have knowledge of and likely involvement in child trafficking on the consumer side; Bill Clinton visited Epstein’s island.) Similarly, I think the “Satanic ritual abuse” conspiracy theories were used to, again, discredit the idea that elites are involved in child trafficking rings. I’m sure this tactic is used on other things than child trafficking, this is just where I’ve noticed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ” somewhat silly conspiracy theories relating to trafficking are planted to make people dismiss the possibility entirely”

      I think that’s true of most conspiracy theories… (and part of what I meant by surrounding something you don’t want examined with a bunch of nonsense).

      Liked by 1 person

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