Via America’s Lawyer: While federal lawmakers continue to grill Big Tech over the sharing of content that encourages extremism, what about content that encourages sexual exploitation and human trafficking? Attorney, author, and founder of Runaway Girl Carissa Phelps joins Mike Papantonio to explain more.

Click here to learn more about human trafficking lawsuits.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Big tech has been grilled by lawmakers over how they monitor content shared across social media platforms. But a major missing piece of the conversation is online pornography, which has become a hotbed for sexual exploitation and pure human trafficking. As major forms of federal, platforms are facing federal lawsuits, it’s time to regulate this whole, this whole issue. Seems to be taboo when it comes to Congress taking any real action. I’ve got author and founder of Runaway Girl, Carissa Phelps and by the way, she is my newest law partner. Welcome to the show. Welcome to the law, law firm. You know, I can’t, we really can’t start this without explaining your background. You were trafficked from the time you were 12 years old to about 15.

Carissa Phelps:                  Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             And in there we, we’re going to be doing interviews from, time after time, of people who’ve been trafficked. We’ve, we’ve interviewed you before. It’s a harrowing story. But after that, you ended up going to UCLA, get an MBA, getting a law degree with a specialty kind of in finances.

Carissa Phelps:                  Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             I mean, that’s, so that’s what I want to talk about here. You see everybody’s missing the fact that you got MindGeek. Okay. MindGeek is an organization that has PornHub and dozens of other porn sites underneath it. They have a right to do that. First amendment says that’s fine. I’m good with that, myself. The problem with this story is it’s not just about that, is it? Tell us, tell us how they go about getting content, content with trafficked individuals, trafficked women.

Carissa Phelps:                  So really there’s just no way of monitoring as much content as comes in to that site. So all this content comes in and there are reviewers that aren’t really able to see humanly as much content is come, is coming in. So we’ve had young girls that I’ve sat down with, who were raped and then those videos were posted online, who were unconscious, who were basically assaulted, videoed and then that’s uploaded to the, to the site. Now they have a, a kind of paid platform where they pay content contributors. So everyone’s an amateur pornographer now, and they could post things and get paid back money for it. And how they regulate who else is in the video is very, very, very shady, in terms of what we see online and what they’ve answered too, in terms of other hearings.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. They, they get a deal don’t they? PornHub and MindGeek gets a deal if a trafficker, which they’re well aware. There’s no question in my mind, they know exactly what goes on because they see the numbers. They have a way to file who’s the, who are the people posting this. Trafficker takes five girls, most of the time underage, to a hotel room. They say, do this sex act, do this sex act. They even rape some of these sex trafficked girls in the room. That then is, is sent to PornHub. PornHub under the law has a responsibility to find out, who are these people? What’s going on? Are these traffic, is this being done against their will? It’s not like somebody in LA who is saying, you know, I’m in the porn business, I do this for a living. I’m going to get paid. These people, not only do they get paid, they get victimized and then the trafficker gets paid all of this money. Is that kind of how it works?

Carissa Phelps:                  That is, although I think trafficking happens across the spectrum, even in some of those places in LA and in San Fernando Valley or in other places as well. I think trafficking can happen anywhere at any time. But these, these, these occurrences that you’re talking about where girls and victims are taken, boys too, young men are taken against their will. They’re drugged, they’re forced into sex acts that are then posted on these pornography sites that PornHub profits off of is happening. It is occurring and we are getting reports of it, absolutely.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. I mean, so we, we know, New York Times, by the way, did a great example. They did a great story on a site that is falling underneath, MindGeeks, MindGeeks heading where they found out that, that girls were being raped. Right on, you know, they knew that girls were being raped. They played it anyway. The child that was raped, the person that was raped, just kind of disappears. Okay. Let’s take the scenario that we just gave, that you’re very aware of. You’ve seen it. You were, you were actually in, you were trafficked from the 12 year, time you were 12 to 15 on and off. In there, you saw exactly what we’re talking about. Let’s get a hotel room, right? Let’s bring our trafficked girls into the hotel room. Let’s, oh yeah, let’s let everybody know they’re here and there, people come by one by one for these trafficked girls. These girls aren’t there because they want to be, they’re trafficked, they’re slaves, and then long comes, you know, the, the internet, pornography on the internet. Well, we can make more money there. It’s not just that we’re having them available for these guys. We can do some filming. This is, you know what, it’s more, it’s, it’s more of a moneymaker than heroin or drugs or anything like that because here you’re using the commodity again and again. Right?

Carissa Phelps:                  Again and again and again, and that’s the, that’s the harm that’s done that we see 10 years down the road, we see it into the future of the people who are harmed in this, in the human trafficking and in pornography that condones human trafficking, that allows for it, is human trafficking.

Mike Papantonio:             They’re actually situations where they see the same hotel room, right? Same hotel says, you can do this. You can do this and, and, you know, go to it. That’s part of the problem too, isn’t it?

Carissa Phelps:                  Yeah. Or same, same hotel looking, same design, same design standards. So, you know, it’s the same hotel brand or property that they’re being taken to. And it will be different for different types of traffickers that are taking people to different locations, for sure.

Mike Papantonio:             You’re involved in lawsuits also where you’re suing hotels.

Carissa Phelps:                  Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             Talk about that just briefly.

Carissa Phelps:                  Some, some hotels, you know, have been found to have encouraged it, to have employees that encourage it. But mostly we’re looking at the brands that have known it was happening, have gone out and sought, you know, basically media and attention for doing something about it, but then really haven’t done anything about it. And so they continue to open up these spaces where victims are held, where they’re harmed, where they’re trafficked, where they’re brutalized, and it’s because of that space. Again, but for having that space, that person wouldn’t be able to be trafficked in that way.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.