The Problem of Sextortion Spreading alarmingly Fast Online

Sextortion is a “form of sexual exploitation that employs non-physical forms of coercion to extort sexual favors from the victim” according to Wikipedia and has become some sort of plague, especially for teens and young adults. In the event of sextortion, the victim gets threatened and forced to comply with the desires of the criminal who uses power over her (as in the vast majority of cases, victims are women). The issue has been brought to the attention of the public, following a lot of different incidents of sextortion and specifically a statement of the FBI.

After the arrest and charge of a man called Brian Caputo, the FBI published a press release that revealed the tactics used by Caputo for obtaining sensitive data from his victims. Quoting from the press release: According to court documents, Caputo for the past eight years has used social media accounts with Facebook, Kik Messenger, and Text Me!, as well as Yahoo! and Dropbox accounts to communicate with dozens of minor females throughout the United States while posing as a minor female. Soon after establishing communication with the minor females, Caputo would threaten to reveal sexually explicit images of their friends unless the minor females created and sent to him images of themselves nude or engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”

As you can see, social media accounts can cause a lot of trouble to girls and young women who expose themselves even without them knowing about the extent of exposure. At the same press release of the FBI, there was firm and direct reference to the growing phenomenon of sexual exploitation: “This case is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.” Project Safe Childhood deals with the problems that might obstruct a child from growing up in a stable, safe environment and you can find more information about it if you click here.

Sexting and Revenge

Sexting is the case of sending over a nude picture to someone, using your mobile phone or even your social media account. This has become a frequent pattern for teenagers, as you will see from the percentage of high school students, admitted to have sent nude pictures in this way. From a total of 606 high school students, almost 20% have revealed that they have used their cell phone for sending such a photo. This is definitely alarming and can act as a form of blackmail or even revenge.

Another important aspect that has to be outlined is the revenge that takes place through these interactions. Personal stuff and details that should be kept private are published, because of the sense of revenge that has to do with relationships and their consequences. Following the trend of the popular films of “The Purge” and “The Purge: Anarchy”, a lot of people found justification to what they wanted to do and engaged in revenge acts without any fear or hesitation.

How Sextortion Acts and Qucik tips to Stop it

It is true that most of the times the victim of sextortion has befriended the criminal and has revealed some personal information. This is the easiest way for the cyber criminal to take advantage of the information revealed and continue on by threatening to expose the victim. Another method used is that of the proper malware to the computer of a potential victim. This enables the criminal to get the pictures or other data required, without the knowledge and of course without the consent of the victim.

In order to stop such phenomena, it is crucial that every single one of us takes precautions and does not reveal such information online (particularly to strangers). Covering your web camera is a great way to rule out the possibility of your photos and other stuff exposed on the internet. Learning how to keep your computer safe and away from malware and viruses is also important. In general, think of the information that you publish online (using social media) and think twice before sharing any of the information, photos and other details with somebody else.

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