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Instagram blocks nude images in DMs to mitigate ‘sextortion’ crimes reaching record numbers

This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Instagram recently announced that the photo and video sharing platform popular with young users will be moving to combat sexual extortion, or sextortion, a crime that continues to victimize more people, including minors, according to the FBI. announced that it would take new measures.

What is sextortion? Social media crime trends According to the FBI, from October 2021 to March 2023, the FBI reported at least 12,600 crimes in which a malicious actor entices a minor to engage in sexual activity or send extortion money. It said it had received more than 13,000 reports of online financial sextortion involving multiple victims.

John Shehan, senior vice president at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), said in response to Meta’s new features to prevent sextortion on Instagram, “Companies have no control over minors using their platforms. We have a responsibility to ensure the protection of the “The device-side safety measures proposed by Meta in an encrypted environment are encouraging. We believe that these new measures will increase reporting by minors and curb the circulation of child exploitation online. I look forward to that.”

Instagram’s new feature, Nude Protection, will be turned on by default for users under 18, and will blur nude images sent through direct messages (DMs) on the app, allowing the app to send messages in users’ DMs. Displays a message to the user if nudity is detected.

Nigerian brothers plead guilty to orchestrating deadly sexual exploitation scheme after Michigan teen commits suicide

Instagram’s new feature, Nude Protection, will be turned on by default for users under 18 and will blur nude images sent through direct messages (DMs) on the app, allowing the app to block users’ DMs. Displays a message to the user when nudity is detected. (meta)

According to Meta’s April 11 press release, Instagram users who have Nudity Protection turned on will “see a message asking them to reconsider” when they try to send a nude photo detected by the app.

Additionally, users should be aware that when sending or receiving nude images, “people may screenshot or forward your images without your knowledge, and your relationship with that person may change in the future.” You will receive a “tip” reminding you that you should check your profile carefully just in case. They are not who they say they are,” the press release states. Instagram provides users with links to a variety of expert-curated resources.

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Instagram's new nude protection feature

According to Meta’s April 11 press release, Instagram users who have Nudity Protection turned on will “see a message asking them to reconsider” when they try to send a nude photo detected by the app. (meta)

These are also part of the NCMEC initiative called “Take it Down,” which aims to help victims of sextortion erase explicit images of their victims and dissuade malicious actors from sharing them online. It also includes links to a variety of resources, including free services. This tool can be accessed from: https://takeitdown.ncmec.org.

Mehta’s announcement comes two years after a Michigan teenager committed suicide, two Nigerians extradited to the United States were found guilty of conspiring to sexually exploit a teenager through sextortion. This was done on the same day it was approved.

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Jordan Demay was 17 years old when he had Samuel Ogosi, 22, and his brother Samson Ogosi, 20. Both Nigeria and Using the hacked account, he posed as a woman on Instagram and started talking to the boy, eventually forcing him to send money and threatening him further until he committed suicide in March 2022.

Portrait of Nigerian brothers Samuel Ogosi and Samson Ogosi

Nigerian brothers Samuel and Samson Ogosi have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion of minors. (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission)

“Nothing is a coincidence for them,” Jordan’s father, John DeMay, told Fox News Digital about last week’s Instagram announcement. “Jordan’s case is the first in history to be handed over and prosecuted at the sextortion level. Meta… and other social media companies that are closely following this case are concerned that because it is a first-of-its-kind case, I’m paying attention to what’s happening.”

Mr. Demay filed a civil suit against Mr. Mehta after his son’s death.

FBI warns that more teens are being targeted in online ‘sexual exploitation’ schemes

“They have a responsibility…and we want other families to do the same,” he said. “Some people have been victimized, and some will be victimized. But social media companies now have many safeguards in place, and we are working hard to accommodate families who have been victimized. , is trying to break down some of those barriers. [the companies’] Take action, not action, and hold yourself financially accountable. Because the only way they’re going to stop doing it is by hitting them in their pockets. ”

Jordan DeMay

Three Nigerian men have been arrested in connection with the sextortion of 100 young people and the 2022 suicide of 17-year-old Jordan Demay. (Handout)

The same night the Ogosi couple began communicating with Jordan through Instagram, the teenager sent explicit photos of himself to an account that appeared to belong to the woman. Prosecutors said Samuel Ogosi threatened to expose and “spread” the money online if Jordan didn’t send the money immediately. Jordan complied and transferred the money to the suspect, but the crime escalated from there as Okoshi demanded increasingly large amounts of money from the 17-year-old boy.

The exchange continued for hours that night, until Jordan told Samuel Ogosi that he intended to commit suicide.

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“Good,” wrote Samuel Ogosi. “Hurry up or I’ll make you do it. I swear to God.”

Jordan Demay with a soccer ball

John DeMay said he would tell Jordan “every day” if he had the “chance” that threats from sextortionists were not the end of his life. (Handout)

The Okoshi brothers could be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years on each count of conspiracy to commit sexual exploitation of a minor. The indictment against the two brothers alleges that they were involved in hundreds of similar schemes, many of which involved minors.

The FBI said in a press release earlier this year that the average age of sextortion victims is between 14 and 17, but the FBI noted that any child can become a victim. According to the FBI, perpetrators of financially motivated sextortion typically come from African and Southeast Asian countries. The FBI also confirmed a 20% increase in sextortion cases involving minors from October 2022 to March 2023.

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Sextortion can lead to suicide and self-harm. From October 2021 to March 2023, the majority of victims of online financial extortion were juveniles. According to the FBI, these reports include at least 20 suicides.

Video: John DeMay talks about his son’s sextortion

Christopher Dietzel, a researcher at McGill University’s iMPACTS project, called on Mehta to do more to prevent sextortion.

“Automatically blurring nude images in Direct Messages is not enough, nor does it address the potential for sextortion. “There’s still a possibility that it could be used to do something,” Dietzel said. “Instagram and other social media companies must implement policies and measures to hold perpetrators accountable, address the spread and misuse of non-consensual sexual images, and educate young people about the potential harm.” .”

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Melissa Henson, vice president of the Parents Television and Media Council, called on Congress to introduce online child protection laws, including the Kids Online Safety Act, the Children and Youth Online Privacy Protection Act 2.0, and the EARN IT Act. I asked that it be passed.

”[T]Henson said, “There is absolutely no reason, and no excuse, for Congress not to strengthen protections for children online. Our children face an online world designed primarily for adults, and children There is little or no protection for them.” They are fighting against powerful algorithms that feed harmful content. They can interact with adults who may turn out to be predators and become victims of sextortion schemes. Access sexually explicit and violent content with the click of a button. Congress must hold the tech industry accountable for protecting children. ”

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