It Isn’t Always Just Marketing and PR

Social media receives frequent praise from marketers, PR professionals, business consultants and more as a wonderful communication tool. It can connect you to your customers or new clients, as well as peers and contemporaries.

But it’s not always just about marketing and PR.

A new book and accompanying documentary, Oral Sex Is The New Goodnight Kiss, offers a disturbing look at life for a group of teenage Canadian girls. Aged between 13-15 years old and from affluent neighbourhoods, these girls use the likes of Youtube, Nextopia and Craigslist to advertise underage sex services to older guys.

The reasoning behind it? So the girls can go shopping on sites like Wishlist, Felicite and Amazon. Some of the girls will have sex with up to 7 different men each night. The going rate for taking a girl’s virginity is $1,000.

There’s no doubting that social media is an extraordinarily effective communication tool.

The question is, are we making it too effective, too easily?

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  1. says

    Wow, that is really terrible. Thought-provoking piece Danny and it is a theme that David Spinks, Stuart Foster, and I were discussing on his blog. I wrote a blog piece on the potential dangers of social media after the discussion (http://scribnia.com/blog/) and I’ll be sure to link to this article as well.

  2. says

    I’m not really surprised to hear that social media is being used for underage prostitution, but I am surprised that we haven’t heard of any type of crackdown on this occurring. I mean, there’s a documentary about it! You’d think we would have heard about some kind of police operation (I’d like to think I’m not that out of the loop these days).

    Remember, the age of consent now is 16 years old. This is blatantly illegal! And depending on the ages of these men, potentially illegal in more than one way. I’d like to know more about where their parents are throughout all of this.

  3. Matt says

    I do agree that social media does make it easy for stuff like this to happen, but really I think we should be looking at the underlying problem of these girls’ attitude on sexual behavior, not really the medium they use.

    Is better regulation of social media going to help? Maybe a little, but these girls will still probably find other avenues to exploit themselves.

    • says

      Agreed, Matt. It’s the same thing time and time again (normally) – lack of interest on the home front, or education in schools.

      It’s a tough one for the relevant agencies or people to deal with, and not something I envy.

    • says

      Yes, the primary issue here is the attitude towards sexual behaviour held by these girls. That being said, it’s important to look at how the medium being used develops this behaviour. The fact that social media is a free, open, and relatively unregulated medium available to the majority of people plays a significant part in the ease with which these girls look at advertising their services and their subsequent behaviour. If there was an associated cost or the internet was not so easily within their reach, it is unlikely that we would be witnessing this occurrence.

      It’s not so easy as to say that it’s one thing over another – when it comes to explaining the causes of an individual’s behaviour, there are always multiple explanations and multiple influences that always play off one another. I personally think that better regulation of social media is necessary, and not only from governments or businesses. Parents are in the best position (usually) to regulate a child’s use of the internet along with developing their attitudes.

      Of course, they will find other ways to exploit themselves if that is in fact what they wish to do. But that doesn’t mean to leave things as they are in the face of that probability. These avenues need to be limited as they are discovered to facilitate such behaviours. To let it run rampant over the internet would bring into question the utility of the laws we have in place (which are in place for a reason), which has further implications to be discussed at another time. :)

      • Matt says

        That is true. Some sort of regulation would be necessary, I’m just afraid regulation might lead to limiting the ways people express themselves. It’s a very touchy issue, and maybe it’s something that needs to be worked on and improved one baby step at a time. It’s sad to see stuff like this happen, in general and even more sad that we need to even regulate a medium that is so good at helping people express themselves.

        • says

          I can definitely understand that concern. Something intended to regulate the way people use social media in order to prevent solicitation could easily become distorted and end up censoring things we don’t wish to be censored.

          I think the best thing that can happen to start is that these sites regulate themselves and remove these advertisements as soon as their discovered. It may not abolish or prevent the act, but it will at the very least show that it is discouraged and make it more difficult for these girls to solicit themselves.

          If these sites step up to the plate, then I think we can get the benefit of preventing this undesired use of social media while protecting its use towards healthy expression. Only time will tell really…we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

  4. says

    It definitely is a double edged sword…to much openness and free flow of communication can lead to bad things happening and misinformation being spread. You also can’t clamp down on this openness for fear of slowing innovation. Tough call…but I’m more for open then closed at this point.

  5. says

    In college in the mid-1990s, I routinely drove from campus to downtown along a backroad because it lacked stop lights. That street and its perpendicular side roads were known as the city’s red light district until the cops arrested the johns and the women and tried making right out of wrong.

    Would it surprise you I saw 1-2 girls per street corner? Majoring in sociology, this fascinated me and I occasionally chatted with some of these women, wondering why they did what they did and getting a pretty good idea of what they were making each night. Again, this was mid-90s.

    Social media was not coined until ten years later; and marketing and PR played no role either in why they ran tricks. They did it for money–pure and simple. The same motivation as today. Their parenting and family life may not be great, either. Maybe their father or stepfather molested them. Who knows.

    Fact is, I don’t know the solution but to blame craigslist and youtube is plain silly.

    • says

      I don’t think anyone is blaming craigslist or youtube for this occurring – they’re certainly not responsible for these girls wanting to solicit themselves in the first place, and you’re right: blaming them would just be illogical. But if you know that your social media site is being used for this purpose, and you have the capability to control how it is used, would you not look at stopping it? I’m pretty sure that the creators of these sites did not come up with their concept with this type of use in mind, and I doubt it’s a desired development.

      Something like this, and the “Craigslist Murderer”, just opens up discussion on the broader topic of the regulation of social media and its associated questions and concerns. And isn’t that a Pandora’s Box.

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