The advent of the internet has made today’s web more than an electronic bulletin board, and the days of using the internet as a mere one-way supplier of news, is over. With social media tools, information can be exchanged back and forth (McCrea, 2010; Munkittrick, 2010; Wallace, 2006).A social media networking website is an internet website containing profile web pages of members that include their names or nicknames along with their photographs or any other personal or personality identifying information placed on such pages and linked to other profile web pages of friends or associates on the social networking websites. As such, members can be accessed by other members or visitors to the websites. A social networking website provides members and visitors to such website, the ability to leave messages or comments on the profile web page that are visible to all or some visitors to the profile web page and may also include a form of electronic mail for members of the networking site (Boyd & Nicole 2007).
According to Pro and Cons (2010:3), a social media network is defined as “an online services platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relation among people who share interests and/or activities. A social network essentially consists of a representation of each user (often a profile), his/ her social links, and a variety of additional services”. Examples of social media networks are; Face book, Twitter, 2go, My Space and the rest of them. In a broader sense, social networking means an individual or group-centred service that allow users to share ideas, activities, events, and interest within their individual or group networks.
All over the world, people experience joy when they form new social attachments and react with loneliness and despair when these bonds are broken. Previous research by media scholars show that, people who have a network of family and friends are happier and healthier and live longer than those who are more isolated. People need people, which are why social situations can have such a profound effect on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviour (Kabakci, Ferham andAhmet, 2008).
For society to exist, certain communication needs have to be met. Such as; the ability to read and write. Over the years, human beings have so explored and utilized communication that we now live in a media age. Today, the mass media have become a persuasive part of our lives, possibly because a combination of technological, economic and social factors have led to several media that have pervaded contemporary society. These trends, among others, include the internet, mobile phones and the social media. Indeed, mobile phones and social media have become so prevalent that the world has virtually „shrunk‟ to what is termed a global village. Children now use the social media networks to satisfy their communication needs. This is however, not without some fears and challenges.
In ancient times, say some 200,000 years ago (Dominick, 2011), language developed and this led to the development of oral culture – a culture that relied heavily on memory. As humans developed, it became more and more difficult to rely on oral communication. Writing became the next big development as the need to keep more detailed, permanent and accessible records arose. Thus around 1450, printing developed and made the written word an important means of communication. However, as printing and books became expensive and exclusive, technological developments led to the era of the electronic media (Dominick, 2011). The telegraph, Photography, radio, television, computer and the internet, all changed the way people communicated with one another and the way information is stored and transmitted. Cell phones, laptops and other mobile information devices have further widened the horizon of communication.
Moreover, The United State Federal Trade Communication (2010) observed that children from ages 13-17 are heavy users of digital technology and new media applications, including social networking, mobile devices, instant messaging and file sharing. The online world has changed how children learn, socialize and are entertained. It is obvious that children’s use of computer technologies or mobile phones is pervasive. This is because many children use their phones, not for making calls or sending text messages alone, but increasingly, for applications like e-mailing, web browsing and social networking (Lenhart, Madden, Macgill, & Smith, 2007; Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010; Commonsense Media, 2009; Nielsen, 2009).
When you log onto Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter today, you’ll likely be greeted by a heavy smattering of red Xs as part of a broad social media campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking and slavery. The initiative is a part of Shine a light on Slavery Day. Now in its fifth year, Shine a Light on Slavery Day was created by the End It Movement, an organization that brings awareness, prevention, and rescue efforts to the fight against the global problem of human trafficking and slavery. Tomorrow, celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, as well as some members of Congress, will change their respective profile photos to include red X-s to help bring attention to the cause, reports Refinery29.
In February 2014, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) introduced the End Modern Slavery Initiative to address the issue. “As I have seen firsthand, the stark reality of modern slavery is unconscionable, demanding the United States and civilized world make a commitment to end it for good,” The Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently held hearings about the human rights travesty, which has left tens of millions of people in financial or physical bondage. In the United States alone, around 17,500 people are trafficked into the country annually, according to the Polaris project, and the problem is much worse globally, with around 20 million people trafficked annually. Kutcher, who cofounded Thorn, a company that builds software to help combat trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors, testified at the hearing about the need to unite against the trade. There, he got emotional, saying: “The right to pursue happiness, for so many, is stripped away; it’s raped; it’s abused. It’s taken by force, fraud, or coercion. It is sold for the momentary happiness of another.”
The contemporary movement of people from one place to another has two opposing aspects. One is prohibitive, addressing human trafficking; the other allows for the principle of free movement (Truong, 2006, p.59). Human trafficking by definition denotes that people are forced, tricked or threatened into situations in which they are exploited either sexually, financially or through forced labour. Trafficking in human beings involves by definition, an element of exploitation. The most widely used definition of trafficking is stated in the United Nations Palermo Protocol- (UNPP 2000: 2)
Trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
The International Labour Organization estimates that there are at least 2.4 million trafficked persons at any given point in time. Yet, there are only a few thousand convictions of traffickers every year. Most of the victims are not identified and consequently never receive justice for the damage inflicted upon them. Despite growing awareness and more effective law enforcement responses trafficking remains a low-risk criminal enterprise with high returns. The ILO estimates that annual profits generated from trafficking in human beings are as high as 32 billion USD (ILO, 2008 p.1)
Nigeria has gained a reputation for being one of the leading African countries in human trafficking with cross-border and internal trafficking. Trafficking of persons however, is the third largest crime after economic fraud and the drug trade. The violation of human rights as a result of political, social and economic crisis by several military regimes in Nigeria has hindered the development of community participation in decision making processes especially to women and children in the country. In addition, the oil boom in the 1970s created opportunities for migration both inside and outside the country. This created avenues for exploitation, for international trafficking in women and children, for forced labour and for prostitution. Nigeria is seen as a country of origin, transit and destination for human trafficking. There is also evidence of internal trafficking which is within the country. Destinations for trafficked Nigerians include the following West African countries; Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Gabon and Guinea. To European countries, they include; Italy, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom. To North Africa, they include, Libya, Algeria and Morocco and to Middle Eastern countries, Saudi Arabia, United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO 2006 p, 11-12).
Laczkoand Gramegna (2003 p, 179-194) note the growing consensus on the existing difficulty in measuring and monitoring trafficking given the wide range of actions and outcomes covered by the term, Article 3 of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons (including recruitment, transportation, harbouring, transfer and receipt).
As part of efforts to put an end to human trafficking otherwise called modern slavery, the Women Consortium (WOCON) pioneered the Launch of the campaign against trafficking of women on March 8 1997 in Lagos and has since engaged in sensitization, awareness and advocacy campaigns at the International, Regional and Sub-Regional and National levels. (Women’s Consortium of Nigeria, [WOCON], 1997. para. 2).
The Committee for the Support of the Dignity of Women (COSUDOW) in 2003 under the United National Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, (UNICRI) organized a campaign at different levels through the use of radio jingles, face caps, T-shirts, stickers, posters, leaflets and handbills, and through meetings organized by various clubs, vocational centres, trade unions and social associations. In addition, traditional rulers, chiefs, opinion leaders and priests were visited in order to have their support. The campaign’s messages were in the Edo language and Pidgin English since the campaigns were done purposely in Edo State. (United National Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute [UNICRI], 2003 para 2)
Also, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) on 10th October 2010 launched “I am Priceless Campaign”. This campaign was in collaboration with the European Union Delegation, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).
The report by the Committee for the Support of Dignity of Women (COSUDOW), prepared by Sr. Patricia Ebegbulem shows that the committee organized a campaign during the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa. The media was used as a channel especially The Sun Newspaper. Twenty thousand campaign leaflets out of which fifteen thousand was inserted into Sun Sports newspaper; 4000 was inserted into bulletins of some Catholic Churches and one thousand was sent to Ghana and shared among religious women.
Furthermore, Initiators of Awareness and Development (IAD) a non-governmental organization in collaboration with NAPTIP organized a 7 star programme as part of effort to support human trafficking all using the media as channel of communication and awareness. (Initiators Awareness Development [IAD], 2012.Para 1).
As a matter of fact, human trafficking cases in Nigeria are on the increase and also metamorphosing into newer concepts like “Baby Factories”, “Baby Harvesting” (Huntley, 2013, p.1). It therefore, means that accessibility to campaigns, awareness and knowledge level of risk factors, attitude towards campaigns and practices are highly questionable.
It is against this background that this study seeks to highlight not only the general and specific legislative, institutional, policy and administrative measures adopted in addressing human trafficking but also the student perception of social media campaigns carried out by the government and various non-governmental agencies (NGOs) in order to control human trafficking in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Human Trafficking is a special phenomenon that is spreading across every region around the world. Generally, people are trafficked from developing to developed countries in search of better opportunities. The youth constitute the majority of those involved in human trafficking in their quest for a better life outside Nigeria.
Various campaigns have also been carried out in the social media and more are still on-going on to put an end to the menace.
Therefore, the study is set to investigate the influence of social media in creating awareness against human Trafficking.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The major purpose of this study is to discover the impact of social media in creating awareness against human trafficking in Nigeria. Specifically, the study:
- To examine the level of Nigeria youth exposure to social Media campaigns on human trafficking
- To Identify Nigeria youth awareness level of social media campaigns on human trafficking.
- To ascertain the extent to which social media campaigns against human trafficking has impacted on Nigeria youths.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions will give directions to the study.
- What is the level of Nigeria Youth exposure to social media campaigns on human trafficking?
- What is the level of awareness of Nigeria Youth on social media campaigns on human trafficking?
- To what extent have the social media campaigns against human trafficking impacted on Nigeria Youth?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study which found out the Students perception of social media campaigns against human trafficking would be of academic and social relevance to the society. Academically, it would help to understand the body of knowledge on the issue of human trafficking globally affecting fundamental human rights which is to be upheld at all times.
Socially, they would understand the implication of human trafficking on their human rights and policies set aside to protect them nationally and internationally. The government also would be able to formulate policies concerning human trafficking in Nigeria.
Finally, this study would help the government, media and non-governmental organizations in planning successful programs to bring about a change of attitude and behavior among Nigerians.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study is on the University of Abuja. The focus are the students of Uni Abuja
1.7 Limitation of the Study:
In carrying out this research, challenges were encountered. The first major constraint was the time within which the work is expected to be completed, coupled with the fact that the research had been done alongside normal academic work.
Another major problem was finance due to the present inflationary trends to the country transportation problems and risk of being on the road to various libraries, for vital libraries, for vital information and materials.
In spite of the above setbacks, the researcher was able to generate meaningful materials which seem relevant to the topic.
1.8 Definition of Terms
- Human trafficking: Human trafficking is an organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited (as by being forced into prostitution or involuntary labour) etc.
- Social Media: They are forms of electronic communication which facilitate interactive base on certain interests. Social media include web and mobile technology. Kaplan and Helen (2010) defined Social Media as a group of internet based application that allows the creation and exchange of user generated content.
- Media: Are all those media technologies that are intended to reach a large audience by mass communication. “They are messages communicated through a mass medium to a number of people” (Bittner, 1980, p 10)
- Social Networking Sites: A website where people put information about them and can send to others.
- Youth: Youths is the time of life when a person is young having the characteristics of the young.