Sex trafficking is a crime when women, men and/or children are forcefully involved in commercial sex acts. In the United States, any minor under the age of 18 engaged in commercial sex acts is automatically considered a victim of sex trafficking under the law. Worldwide, it's estimated that there are 4.5 million victims of sex trafficking.
International Definition: Sex trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons who under threat, force, coercion, fraud, deception or abuse of power are sexually exploited for the financial gain of another.
US Definition: United States, sex trafficking involves three elements: the process, the means and the goal. The U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act defines sex trafficking as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of an individual who under force, fraud or coercion is induced to perform a commercial sex act. Note that sex trafficking does not have to have some form of travel, transportation or movement across borders. At the core, sex trafficking is characterized by sexual exploitation through force, fraud or coercion. For children (anyone under 18 years old), consent is irrelevant, and the element of means (e.g., force) is not necessary (22 USC §7102).
Trafficking via Internet: Traffickers utilize social media, dating sites and online advertisements to market minors and trafficked victims. Ads seemingly posted by a person willingly engaged in the sex trade are often created or monitored by traffickers. Traffickers lie about the victim’s age and may even disguise themselves as the person in the ad when communicating with johns via the internet or phone. Some websites try to screen ads for trafficking; however, the sheer volume of ads makes this process a daunting task.