Advertisement
Entertainment

A Handy Guide for Not Getting Blackmailed Over Your Nudes

Sexting is never easy. Here’s how to prevent it from becoming a national disaster, like for example, if you are a prominent politician like Tony Clement.

by Mica Lemiski
Nov 8 2018, 4:02pm

Image courtesy World Economic Forum/Wikimedia Commons

I’m pretty sure that ever since I saw Mandy Moore as the target of a nude photos scandal in A Walk To Remember, I’ve been wondering what would happen to me, my reputation, and my self-esteem if faced with a similarly disgusting prank.

But the way Mandy’s injustice was carried out on screen (some douchebro cut and pasted a photo of her face onto the body of a nude model, then showed it off in the cafeteria) seems almost tame in comparison to the rampant, vicious sextortion and cyber-bullying occuring online today in high schools, office buildings, and yes, even Canada’s House of Commons. Revenge porn is as alive and ugly as ever. Just ask Tony Clement.

In a statement he issued on Tuesday, Clement—a Conservative MP—said he is stepping down from all of his committee and critic roles in the House of Commons due to a nude photos scandal, as VICE reported yesterday. Apparently he discovered the “consenting female recipient” he was sending nudes and video footage to was actually a financial extortionist.

Oops.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer then asked Clement to step down from caucus Wednesday after more allegations about his questionable online behaviour emerged. So, to help people like Mr. Clement (or other people in similarly powerful positions) VICE rounded up some tips for how not to get blackmailed or sexploited in this terrifying digital age where privacy breaches are, in some cases, only a click away. Because the creeps have come a long way since the cut-and-paste days of A Walk To Remember, and we’ve got to be prepared.

Consider your position of power

Are you a prominent member of society—particularly someone who may be involved with a national security committee—who is trying your best to keep a spotless reputation so that you may further ascend the corporate ladder or excel in politics? If so, it may be a good idea to refrain from sending nudes, or engaging in sexual acts online, altogether. I don’t want to be that person preaching abstinence (because we all know how well that works) but it’s important to consider how a leaked nude may affect your career if you’re a politician versus an erotic art curator.

If you’re going to send photos, don’t include your face

This is likely something we’ve all heard or read before, perhaps in the pages of Cosmo or even in the “warnings” section of a Wiki article called “How to take Erotic Photos of Yourself” (this really exists and I’m already sorry for letting you know), but Privacy Lawyer David Fraser says keeping your face out of explicit photos is one of the most important things things you can do if you choose to sext.

“I heard of one case where an ex-boyfriend had printed out copies of some photos and stapled them up in the person’s neighborhood,” Fraser told VICE. “It was completely outrageous and appalling, but if those images hadn’t contained the person’s face, they would have been of no import.” David maintains that, even in cases where photos do contain the victim’s face, the victim should never be blamed or even said to have erred in judgement because that puts the onus on them, as opposed to the perp. But still, leaving your face out of the photo makes it “less likely to come back and haunt you,” he says.

For the love of god, cover your webcam

I am one of those idiots who used to scoff at my friends for putting post-it notes or tiny squares of electrical tape on their computer cameras. I would say, “isn’t that a little paranoid?” with the kind of casual, disparaging tone I thought was cool when I was 20. I hereby apologize because apparently, hacking into someone’s webcam is about as easy as making Kraft Dinner if you’re a horny internet genius, as evidenced by this very awkward but informative video with cyber security expert Ondrej Krehel.

Moderate your online horniness

As evidenced by Mr. Clement, there are certain actions—say, openly being a thirsty old man in a position of power— that may make you a more appealing target to sextorters. You see, following Clements’s resignation, several young women spoke to VICE about their encounters with Tony on social media. Apparently, the MP had a habit of staying up late and “liking” the photos of young women with abandon. Can you imagine, as a twenty-something woman, waking up to this set of notifications?

Tony Clement liked your photo
Tony Clement liked your photo
Tony Clement liked your photo
Tony Clement liked your photo
Tony Clement liked your photo
Tony Clement liked your photo
Tony Clement liked your photo
Tony Clement liked your photo
Tony Clement liked your photo

Now, liking a bunch of pics on social, which are unrelated to the sextortion scandal, does of course not make Clement complicit in his own blackmail‚ but let me take this moment to say that liking strangers’ photos, especially when done in excess, and especially when done by an older man to a younger woman, is pitifully funny at best and totally menacing at worst. It gives us the willies. Please don’t.

Don’t be lazy about your passwords

We’ve all done it: tacked a couple numbers and a ‘$’ sign onto the end of a dead pet’s name and called it a day. What better way to memorialize Mr. Pickles the pug than by having him guard your bank account, Instagram, Facebook, Gmail, and entire online life! This is a bad idea. Mr. Pickles will fail you every time. And even if you claim to have a bad memory or are too cool to use hideous passwords like—7%^RAmEn4LYfe%#56934&WEEE**—relying on a predictable cycle of passwords makes you way more vulnerable to attack, as Fraser points out. “Because then, if one of your accounts is compromised, all of your accounts are actually compromised,” he says. In other words, a single Facebook hack could mean compromising your entire iCloud library if you’re a password repeater.

NO UNSOLICITED DICK PICS

Or any unsolicited nudes of any kind, really. But I’m choosing to point a finger at send-happy men with erections because they seem to be the ones invading our phones with their “junk-mail” most often. (When unwanted labial snaps become an issue, I’ll let you know.) Oh, and why is “no unsolicited dick pics” a piece of advice for staying safe online? Well, this rule has more to do with helping others feel safe online. No one is interested in seeing your unwieldy schlong if they didn’t request it.

Don’t accept friend requests from strangers

Your mom was right: nobody has that many friends. She was also right in that accepting requests from strangers does not increase your cool factor, but rather your chances of falling prey to online scams—especially those that are sexually motivated. This year, Burnaby, British Columbia, received two dozen reports of sextortion in just three months, and in several cases, the acceptance of a random friend request is how the predator initially gained access to their potential victim.

Set some boundaries

There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking the recipient of your nudes to delete them afterwards. True, it can be difficult to prove if someone has actually deleted the items in question, but there’s no harm in asking. Any sensible, respectful person should prioritize your safety and security over whatever thrill they get from having spicy pics on their phone.

What it really comes down to? Respect. Because whether you’re participating in low-key creepery by bombarding someone with unsolicited online attention (persistent liking, faveing, commenting) or blackmailing someone over some racy photos (this offense is astronomically worse, to be clear) all of this behavior comes from the same smelly place; that is, a bubbling vat of disrespect.

Follow Mica on Twitter.

Tagged:
sexting
Internet
nudes
webcams
Blackmail
cybercrime
Sextortion