Sexting — the sending and receiving of sexually explicit images — came right after texting. Smart phones accelerated it. And it’s become today’s digital update of a 60s’ note passed around algebra class about that new girl in the tight sweater. Hormonally charged adolescents were probably into sexting first, taking selfies they wouldn’t want their mothers to see. Soon came couples. Even a congressman got caught showing off his bare muscle-bound upper body to teenage girls over the web.

What came next was simply a natural progression. Online blackmail — using non physical threats or sextortion — just upped the ante.
rnPredators, often posing as teenagers themselves, got mostly girls to go even further with salacious shots close to soft porn. Next came nude shots or videos akin to harder porn. Even gang rapes of passed out drunken teens and young women have been posted. And these often wind up on social media.
rn All of this can be devastating to a developing teen’s psyche. Humiliation and shame can cause deep depression leading even to suicide. A number have been reported in recent years.

Authorities agree on one thing. The blatant sexual exploitation of high schoolgirls and college-age women that can now be recorded and instantly communicated through social media, and has added a whole new dynamic to sex crimes against women.

The FBI has this warning about sextortion: “Online perpetrators might gain your trust by pretending to be someone they are not. They lurk in chat rooms and record young people who post or live-stream sexually explicit images and videos of themselves. Or they may hack into your electronic devices using malware to gain access to your files and control your web camera and microphone without you knowing it.”