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What is sextortion?

Shawn Edgington
Pediatrics
"Sextortion" is a new term and a growing concern to watch out for. Sextortion occurs when a person uses guilt, power, or knowledge of a certain secret to force another person into providing sexually explicit photos, having sex, or performing sexual favors.

Sextortion is one of the "crimes of choice" that Internet predators use to gain access into their target's personal life. Predators generally target teens or young adults on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. Predators who practice sextortion pressure their victims to give them sexually explicit photos and/or favors in exchange for their secrecy about previously obtained private information or for a promise to hold off on future violent acts.

Sextortion is a type of exploitation that involves coercion to extort sexual favors from the victim.  It is also a type of blackmail in which sexual images or videos are used to force sexual favors from the victim. People who sext may find themselves victims of sextortion.  Sex texting, known as "sexting" for short, is basically sending, receiving, or forwarding sexual photos or sexually suggestive messages through text message or email.

There was some research by the Internet Watch Foundation that estimated that 88% of self-made explicit images are "stolen" from their original upload location, like social networking sites, and are available on other websites, such as porn sites. That’s scary, especially for those who only thought that photo was being shared with a romantic partner. Consider this: McAfee, the anti-software company, did its own study and found that 60% of sexts get leaked.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.