Sometimes, the internet can band together and do things nicer than making videos of people getting maimed go viral.
You might recall the time everyone was shocked when 4chan stepped up and saved a kitty-cat from torture, because 4chan can abide a whole hell of a lot, but you don’t screw with cats. MetaFilter, a decidedly less controversial community (more prone to asking for advice about interest rates and or digestive issues), engaged in a similar collective mitzvah in saving a poster’s two Russian friends from what was almost certainly sex slavery in Brooklyn.
A poster named Daniel reached out for help from MetaFilter about two friends of his in this very sketchy situation. The girls paid three large to get into the US and work in New York. As the promised legitimate job offers popped up and then fizzled, everyone involved got a bit worried. Then the girls were asked to report to a slimy place called the “Lux Lounge” way the hell out in Brooklyn at midnight for jobs as “hostesses.” (I will don my lifelong New Yorker hat at this point and second that yes, those jobs were almost certainly being a ho.)
As the girls became wary of accepting help and apologized profusely to the traffickers, Daniel became increasingly depressed and jaded. MeFi users started kicking in with their Google Fu and discovered some even more shady evidence. The address didn’t check out. The only events listed for the Lux Lounge were decidedly “strippy.” Something called an “ass-travaganza” was held there in the winter. Things were not looking up for the two girls.
Gawker sums up the ensuing melee of helpfulness that ultimately saved the girls from giving $5 bjs in Coney Island:
Several people offered to escort the girls. Others provided the number of the Human Trafficking Hotline, a service run by the anti-slavery charity the Polaris Project. Another group picked Lux Lounge apart, and discovered that the listed address had been occupied by many shady-sounding businesses over the last few years, that it did not check out in Google street view and that the website was empty. One surprised person discovered that his or her grandmother had lived at the address in the 1920s. But everyone ignored that.
Posters provided numbers for the NYPD vice squad. Some offered to try and find the girls other jobs, to stop them going to New York. And then someone who said they were from the US Department of State came online to say they were on the case. Daniel confirmed that five or six people from State and two human trafficking groups were now helping him. But the girls, who seemed determined to follow through on the contact, still got on a bus to New York.
What finally happened was that a female poster got in direct contact with the girls and convinced them to meet her instead of the shady contact. The girls are now safe, no one participated in any “ass-travaganzas,” and MetaFilter saved the day. (You can read the entire thread if you click here.)