- Oct 3, 2013
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
A viral image on Facebook draws on unofficial data from questionable sources to imply that human trafficking arrests have risen dramatically since President Donald Trump took office.
On Aug. 9, the Facebook page Crusader Operator posted a bar graph that purports to show the yearly number of human trafficking arrests from 2010 to 2018.
According to the graph, the number of human trafficking arrests per year ranged from 300 to 1,952 during the Obama presidency, and then skyrocketed after Trump became president, to 3,213 in 2017 and then to 5,987 in 2018. The graph is decorated with images of a frowning Obama over the bars representing 2010-16, and a smiling Trump for 2017 and 2018. The implication is that the apparent rise in arrests during the Trump years is due to the president’s leadership.
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
As posted to Facebook, the graph doesn’t specify any sources. Nor does it clarify whether it purports to represent federal arrests, state arrests, or both. However, an uncropped version of the graph, posted to Reddit in June 2018, cites two links showing where the numbers originated. (The Reddit page has since been banned.)
That graph says the data for the years 2010-16 are taken from a Washington Examiner article, which accurately cites official arrest figures from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. However, the data for 2017 and 2018 come from a public dashboard that cites bogus numbers gathered by followers of the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory.
Researcher Travis View, who hosts a podcast analyzing the QAnon movement and other conspiracy theories, debunked the QAnon numbers when they first appeared in 2018 on various far-right Internet outlets. Over the course of his investigation, View found that the data comes from now-banned subreddits, 8Chan threads, and Google spreadsheets, where QAnon followers compiled news articles and press releases about human trafficking and tallied arrests. "Their entire methodology for counting human trafficking arrests was fatally flawed," View told PolitiFact in an interview. "They didn’t discriminate between ICE and other law enforcement agencies. They didn’t make distinctions between charges and arrests. They didn’t count arrests that weren’t reported in the news"
PolitiFact | Graph showing rising human trafficking arrests under Trump draws on bogus data
Is this really surprising? Those who have facebook probably have seen the "#savethechildren" posts all over facebook, which is a qanon conspiracy theory that there's a group of "liberal elites" in Hollywood, as well as Democratic politicians, who are all pedo's, and Trump is some savior sent down to bring them all "to justice". It's, of course, more pizzagate nonsense, but now we have GOP politicians embracing these bogus conspiracy theories, and even winning primaries, with the president endorsing those candidates, and retweeting from qanon accounts himself.
While it's no surprise that the far right would concoct another bogus conspiracy theory to attack their perceived political enemies, it's sick how they would use something as serious as pedophilia and human trafficking to spread misinformation to the gullible masses. And now, as I said, you have QAnon GOP candidates actually winning primaries.
The Trump era is seriously going to destroy the GOP from within, and the Republican voter base, most of them at least, seems to want it to happen.