Twitter war raises awareness about human trafficking

Jack Blog

July 6th, 2011 By Jack Morton

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are leveraging social media to create awareness of their anti-human trafficking / sex slavery platform through the Demi and Ashton Foundation (DNA). While this may be (very) old news, a recent Twitter fight between the Village Voice and Ashton Kutcher has been an impetus for recent change. 

Here’s the backstory: the Village Voice is a New York based publication that recently criticized the famous couple for reporting outrageously embellished statistics about the number of underage sex slaves in the United States. The DNA Foundation maintains that between 100,000 and 300,000 girls in the US are lost to prostitution each year – but the Village Voice argued that this statistic is grossly inflated. After challenging that statistic, the Village Voice went on to criticize the recent campaign, “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” (PSAs here), by saying that “Real Men Get Their Facts Straight.”
In response, Ashton Kutcher took to Twitter, publically scolding the Village Voice for its article.  Kutcher sent several tweets to @villagevoice, including “REAL MEN DON’T BUY GIRLS and REAL NEWS PUBLICATIONS DON’T SELL THEM” and “BTW I only PLAYED stupid on TV.” In addition to tweets directed towards the Village Voice, the celebrity has been posting facts about sex slavery, including “In the US, children as young as FIVE YEARS OLD have been sold for sex.”
Through Kutcher’s tweets, he revealed that the Village Voice is affiliated with, which advertises “adult escort services” – classified ads that facilitate the sale of human beings. (Remember when Craigslist faced similar issues?)
The Village Voice fired back, posting numerous criticisms and retweeting negative tweets from followers. For days, the publication has been attacking Kutcher and anyone who opposes it. One of the Village Voice’s tweets: “A PR person just unfollowed us for our “ugliness.” Not sure we’re going to be able to top that triumph this weekend.” (I’m not sure, but I think that the Village Voice just alienated one of the largest Twitter populations with this tweet…)
As a result of this Twitter war, some of the Village Voice’s advertisers (most notably, American Airlines) have already responded to Kutcher’s tweets and have removed their advertising on the site (CSR prompted by social media!). Regardless of whose statistics are correct and whose are not, a Twitter conversation has resulted in awareness of the problem and immediate action to support a good cause. And really, isn’t that the point?