Sexting And Romance Scams – A Path To Sextortion & Blackmail

What It Is, How It Works, And What To Do If You Get Caught In This


So You Got Naked Online…

NOTE: This article is written for both teens and adults.

Well, It Happens. More Often Than You Would Think!

Maybe you’ve done something online that’s worrying you? Or do you want to help someone else? Nakedness or something sexual may feel more serious than other things online. And often it is because it often turns into blackmail.

What Does Sexting Mean?

‘Sexting’ means sharing naked photos or videos online. You might call it something else. It could involve flirty texts, naked photos or videos.

Often it happens between partners. But people also do sexting in groups and different online spaces. Sexting isn’t always about sex. Some people use it to abuse, harass and bully others. And sexting isn’t always agreed to. Sometimes people are forced by others to share a naked photo or video through manipulation and abuse as can happen in a romance scam.

Is The Sexting Agreed To Or Not?

You might think you know what sexting is about. But you might not understand something that has happened to you as sexting.

When sexting is in the news we’re likely to hear it’s bad. It’s often gone wrong and those involved are in trouble or upset. This isn’t always true though. Sexting can be quite complicated.

Most sexting happens in a healthy relationship. And both people agree to it. Maybe you shared your naked photo or video with your partner? And they shared theirs with you too? It’s when pictures get shared in other places that things can get scary.

Let’s say you shared your naked photo or video with someone. And they then shared it with others without asking you. You didn’t agree to it. So they’ve broken your trust – and the law.

Sometimes people share a naked photo or video without wanting to. Someone may have bullied or manipulated them to do it. It might start with flirty texts. They then ask for a selfie. You send one and they ask to see more. And they say you can’t talk to them anymore if you don’t send anymore.

Or someone might start being mean, abusing, or even threatening and call you names or say they will do something if you do not do what they want. They then pressure you to send a more revealing photo or video. You might already have sent one. But that doesn’t give them the right to expect or ask for more.

With sex and sexting, you can change your mind at any time. No means no.

Sexting By Mistake

If you’ve had alcohol or taken drugs, sexting by mistake is more likely. Also if people are pushing you into it. It might not feel like such an important decision at the time.

These are examples of sexting by mistake:

  • Getting confused and pressing the wrong send button
  • Feeling brave about taking a risky photograph
  • Feeling extra confident
  • Being encouraged by friends or mates to do it as a dare
  • Thinking it’s a good laugh and there’s no harm in it

Naked Photos Or Videos Can Arrive Unexpectedly

Sometimes you might receive naked photos or videos you didn’t ask for or expect. From someone you know or a stranger or a fake identity that you think you are in a relationship with.

They might like you. And they think they’re flirting with you. They want your interest and hope you’ll send naked photos or videos in return.

Or somebody might send you a naked photo or video of someone else that you both know.

Photos you’ve taken or shared might be revealing but innocent. Maybe they show weight loss, modeling or swimming. Other people may then take them to share and cause trouble.

Celebrities have had naked photos and videos hacked, stolen, and published. It can happen to anyone.

These situations are complicated. But there are positive ways to handle them.

How You Can Protect Yourself And Friends Or Family

Sharing naked photos and videos in a safe relationship is not new. What has changed is the speed you can share them. And with many
people at once.

Getting live followers and seeing your streaming numbers grow can be very exciting. But taking your top off or exposing yourself is not how you should attract more followers.

It’s easy for people to take a screenshot when you’re live streaming. They can save it. And then sell it to those sexually interested in children.

Getting ‘likes’ might make you feel happy, but don’t share too much. There are other things that people can like about you, such as your hobbies and interests.

Don’t expose yourself or share naked photos or videos to get new followers.

Also, romance scammers often ask for nude photos, particularly of men – since it is easier for them to get the intimate photos of porn stars that they use to scam men. It is often very hard for men to accept that this has happened.

Who Do You Trust?

Obviously, you trusted the person that you shared the photos or videos with. But are they really trustworthy?

The sad truth is most of the time, they are not worthy of your trust and this can go very wrong.

Even in a real relationship trust can disappear, and the other person gets angry or acts in rage – sharing the naked photos of you online – this is called “revenge porn” and it is a crime.

However, if it is not a real relationship, and it is with a stranger or scammer, those photos or videos can easily turn into a nightmare called sextortion – a kind of blackmail where the person wants money or something else in return for not showing them.

The Problem With Revenge Port

Revenge Porn is a crime – and it can be very painful regardless of the age of the person in the photos.

What is Revenge Porn?

Revenge Porn refers to the sharing of explicit or sexual, images or videos, without the consent of the person in the image. This is an issue among people of all ages from children as young as 11 to much older adults. However, the most commonly reported incidents have come from those who are in their teens to adults in their mid-twenties. This is often due to a lack of available information and support regarding the dangers and consequences of sharing explicit images.

When Did This Become an Issue?

Reported cases of revenge porn have increased significantly since 2015. With mobile phones becoming more and more intelligent and cameras being included, sharing images has never been so quick and easy. This has led to an increase in people sharing intimate images with their partners via social media, text, and other instant messaging services.

What are the Effects of Revenge Porn on the Victim?

When a relationship deteriorates and the breakup is not an amicable one, some individuals may choose to use any explicit images that they have of their ex-partner against them as a means of “revenge” against the person who sent them.

This can be extremely damaging for the victim.

Such intimate and private images are, in most circumstances, intended to be seen by the recipient only. When such an image is shared with others and even the public, that person is then not in control of who sees this picture of themselves.

This lack of control and feeling of humiliation can negatively affect that victim. Originally, they might have trusted that partner enough to share such personal content with them and be reassured that the recipient would not act so maliciously. A violation of trust such as this can leave a scar that then has the potential to negatively impact the victim psychologically and jeopardize future relationships.

What if Other People See Your Nude Photo or Video?

  • It depends on how the naked photo or video was shared. If you sent it directly to someone and have had second thoughts, you need to talk with them as soon as possible and ask them to delete it.
  • If someone has put the photo or video directly on social media it makes it harder for you to get back control. Direct messages and snaps can feel like a less risky way to send naked photos or videos. But be aware that naked photos or videos seen in this way can be saved or screenshot by the person you sent it to.
  • Beware: Snapchat will tell you if someone takes a screenshot. However, there are apps that will take a screenshot of your snap without telling you. On  Instagram, direct messages do disappear after a while. But they can also be saved or screenshot and Instagram will not tell you.

What You Can Do If Your Naked Photo or Video Is Posted Online

  1. Use the site’s ‘report abuse’ option. Don’t just choose ‘I don’t like it’. You must let the site know it breaks their rules.
  2. Sites like Facebook and Instagram don’t allow naked photos or videos. So reporting there is easy.
  3. If you are under age, ask a teacher or adult for help if your report doesn’t work.
  4. Ask someone you trust to help you remove stuff you’ve posted online that you have now changed your mind about.

However, you have to be prepared for none of this to work. This is one fo those “actions have consequences” moments.

In our Guide to Surviving Sextortion, we talk about a strategy that can work – claiming the photos are photoshopped! In today’s world that is something most of your friends and family will accept.

What To Do if You’re the Target of Revenge Porn (Including Sextortion)

Did someone share an intimate image of you without your OK? Or was a nude picture taken without your consent, or maybe an image you shared with someone was shared further than you’d intended? If so, you’re not alone. Many people are affected by so-called revenge porn or non-consensual pornography. If that’s happened to you or someone you know, here’s information to help you decide what to do.

Steps To Take If You’re the Target of Revenge Porn

Follow the steps in the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative’s Online Removal Guide. To get your image taken down, you’ll need to report it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Google, Yahoo, Bing, or any other platform it’s on. Before you do, read the guide to find out what to expect and how to document the post, as well as how to report it.

Find out if there’s a law about revenge porn where you live. There are laws against revenge porn in 46 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, in the U.K., Canada, Australia, and many other countries. Check to see if there’s one where you live (Google for Revenge Port Law and add your stat, province, or country,) and then decide whether you want to talk with local law enforcement. If you do, be sure to tell the police if your situation might involve domestic violence, cyberstalking, or child pornography (meaning the person in the photos is below 18 years of age.)

Consider talking with a civil attorney. There are laws that might be able to help you get your images taken down.

PLEASE NOTE: If the person in the photos is below age, just having the photos might be a crime – make sure that you consult an attorney for ALL situations that involve minors.

There are takedown services, but know what you’re getting if you hire a takedown service. Find out what they promise to do to take your image down, and whether you can do that yourself for free. Find out how much they’ll charge, and whether it’s a one-time fee or a recurring charge — and for how long you’ll need to pay. Make sure they are a real company and incorporated where they do business. Do not use a service outside of your country if at all possible.

Call this hotline. If you experienced non-consensual pornography, need help or advice, and you live in the U.S., call the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative’s crisis hotline: 844-878-CCRI (2274). You can learn more on their website

If A Website Or Platform Will Not Take It Down Report It to the FTC

If you are the victim of non-consensual pornography, take the steps above — and then tell the Federal Trade Commission if a company posts your image without your consent and won’t take it down. Report at

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