Stop Them Before They Pimp Again: Google’s Human Trafficking Rhetoric Should Start with Cleaning Up YouTube

If you follow Google’s policy blog, you might have seen this post by Google’s head lobbyist, Susan Molinari:

There are few issues more horrifying than human slavery and trafficking. Yesterday, the House of Representatives took important steps to address these issues by passing twelve bills aimed at helping the victims and calling attention to these criminal acts. We are encouraged by the actions taken yesterday and applaud the House’s leadership.

Given Google’s horrible track record on human trafficking starts with YouTube–an environment that the music industry knows too well is entirely within Google’s control–it’s a little hard to believe that Google is really all that horrified about promoting trafficking through Google’s own properties.

And making money off of it.

The Forrest Hayes Case

Google executive Forrest Hayes was murdered by a prostitute he met through the according to reports.

Alix Tichelman apparently met Google executive Forrest Hayes through a sugar daddy site called  Ms. Tichelman is accused of manslaughter and other charges relating to Mr. Hayes death.  According to SF Gate:

During interviews with police, Tichleman boasted of having more than 200 clients, all of whom she said she met through a website,, according to police.

YouTube distributes the “Sugar Baby University” video linked above and also promotes a YouTube partner channel.  One might well ask Ms. Molinari if Google is getting in business with, how does Google manage to make the ethical case for being so much in favor of laws against human trafficking?  Stop them before they pimp again, maybe?

Here’s the channel for the very service that brought together Google’s own executive with the sugar baby accused of murdering him:

YouTube Seeking A 2

It’s easy to find:

YouTube Seeking A 1

Even if Ms. Molinari can make the case for why Google should profit from this particular site, it’s hard to understand why it is not placed behind Google’s much vaunted “Safety Mode” that is supposed to protect children from something, not quite sure what if they allow this kind of thing to get through.

YouTube Seeking A 3

Ms. Molinari might be interested in this video on the SeekingArrangement Channel that advises girls of all ages on how to create the perfect sugar baby profile:

Sex Tourist Videos

If you search phrases like “Thai teen girls” in YouTube it won’t take you any time to run across what apparently are sex tourist videos shot in South East Asia.  Some of these are set to the music of well-known artists such as Jack White:

philippines sex tourism2

sextourism prudential

While some of this advertising is sketchy, I seriously doubt that Apocalyptica had any idea their ad would show up on a sex tourist video.  And then there is duped advertiser #1:


All with ads by Google.  Last time I looked, defrauding advertisers is not covered by the Communications Decency Act or the DMCA–if for no other reason than it’s not third party actions.  It’s Google’s own actions.

So maybe Ms. Molinari should turn her attention to cleaning up her own house before she visits her hollow sanctimony on others.

For State Attorneys General, Take A Closer Look at Google

We can easily understand why Ms. Molinari is trying to deflect attention away from the seamy underbelly of Google’s crown jewels–they are currently being investigated by a number of state attorneys general about just this kind of thing.  For example, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has a vigorous campaign against exactly this kind of thing:

So while Ms. Molinari would like us all to believe that Google is oh so concerned about human trafficking, it’s hard to believe when you take a cursory look around YouTube, an environment that is 100% within Google’s control and for which Google sells 100% of the advertising.

Ms. Molinari’s protestations are a bit late in the day–in the last session of Congress, i.e., before Google received Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s subpoena–there were reports that Google was working behind the scenes to stop trafficking legislation.

According to the Daily Beast:

Lawmakers are trying to pass a landmark bill to halt child trafficking, but congressional aides say it is facing resistance from big tech companies that have launched a stealth campaign to fight the legislation….Both human trafficking and forced prostitution are already illegal. But what Sen. Mark Kirk and Rep. Ann Wagner, who are pushing the initiative in the Senate and House, respectively, seek to do is create liability for those helping make the connection between pimps and johns….

“The Googles of the world are in a tough spot. They’re not going to speak out publicly against a human trafficking measure. But they also are opposed to it,” said a Wagner legislative aide. According to the aide, negotiations with tech associations usually lead to suggestions that legislation enhance penalties for pimps or johns, rather than online advertisers.

Clean up your own house first, Ms. Molinari.