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Sharing – New Research from Thorn: Financial Sextortion on the Rise, Targeting Teen Boys

The folks at Thorn have the research, and it’s likely worse than you think it is.

Our latest research indicates a worrying trend: 812 reports of sextortion are received by NCMEC weekly, with more than two-thirds involving financial demands.

We also learned from the study that the majority of victims are boys aged 14 to 17 who are often encouraged to share sexual images after receiving intimate imagery from the perpetrator. While many reported deceitful tactics like “catfishing”, some also reported being threatened with account hacking and the use of generative AI technologies to create or threaten to create photorealistic explicit imagery. These findings underscore the critical need for awareness and protective measures for our youth that address the full range of possible tactics perpetrators might employ to sextort a youth, including the increasing threat of generative AI.

The use of AI is a new twist. It’s not enough to tell young boys not to send explicit selfies; they also need to understand that someone may use AI to create an explicit image of them regardless. Education must include societal-wide awareness that an image may not be what it appears to be. That has to be part of this. The extortionist’s main weapon is the shame of having explicit photos of their victim out among their friends and family. Shame is powerful. When we live in a world where anyone with an internet connection and a photo of your face can turn that into an explicit image of you, we need to eliminate the shame. There’s no shame to be had for someone else’s bad actions.

Thorn is also conducting a webinar today if you want to learn more. See the information in the link below.

https://www.thorn.org/blog/new-research-from-thorn-financial-sextortion-on-the-rise-targeting-teen-boys/

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