Understanding the Supply Side of the Commercial Sex Market in Massachusetts: A Data Mining Study

Heather Wightman, Millay Lemos & Michelle Contreras | September 10 | 10:15-11:15 AM | Room 2582

A method that systematically quantifies the number of people sold online for sex, and tracks their basic demographics, is a critical initial step to document the commercial sex market locally in communities. By analyzing patterns of commercial sex markets in the United States, important inferences can be made about sex buying trends. As such, this presentation will describe a data mining study that tracked online sex selling in target regions of Massachusetts, conducted in collaboration between RIA House, the Imagine Foundation, and William James College. The study’s main objective was to describe online patterns of supply within commercial sex markets specific to key Massachusetts regions, with the understanding that supply is dramatically underestimated and often hidden within the regions. This presentation will include data on the number of people sold for sex online for a period of three consecutive months in target Massachusetts regions. The presenters will conclude with examples of practical applications derived from the findings of other online sex selling data mining studies. Specifically, how the findings can clarify trends in demand for online sex, and how local data can also support community efforts to respond to the needs and interests of the people being bought and sold in the online sex market will be discussed.

1) By the end of the presentation, the audience will understand one specific data mining method to quantify the online commercial sex market in their communities.
2) By the end of the presentation, the audience will be able to identify and analyze trends in a local commercial sex market.
3) By the end of the presentation, the audience will begin to think about how a data mining project such as this could help them develop a comprehensive response to a local sex market.

About the Presenters