The digital industry has developed substantially since the beginning of the 21st century with new tools, such as social networking sites (SNSs) and apps, providing new scenarios for criminality sometimes difficult to recognize due to their digital nature. Additionally, social media has swiftly gained access to data traditionally managed by police departments, transferring it to a more public sphere. Therefore, a better understanding of these digital dynamics, not often seen from either the mental health or criminal perspectives, is needed. This paper presents HUMANIZATECH (HTECH), an empirical longitudinal research (Dec. 2015–Dec. 2021) gathering systematic data from 174 police departments worldwide on the criminal use of SNSs and apps against minors. The main findings include 1) a profile of potential victims; 2) evidence of a swift move to more sophisticated criminal dynamics related to online child exploitation and abuse (OCSEA); 3) evidence of an evolution in the use of SNSs towards human trafficking; 4) a list of 58 platforms proved to be used for luring children and adolescents; and 5) a list of 23 more platforms used for minor offences, which are under the radar of law enforcement agencies. Through its research, HTECH has gathered specific information related to the above findings for a genuine understanding of the online modus operandi from the perspectives of the criminal mind and the underage user. These will contribute to designing accurate resources for strategies by law enforcement agencies (intervention) and families (prevention). UPDATED MARCH 22.
Keywords: Police, SNSs, Apps, Minors, Cybercrime, OCSEA, Grooming, Trafficking. https://www.cybercrimejournal.com/IJCC-3-2021%20UPDATE%20FINAL-1.pdf