A Deviant’s Guide to Digital Sex Crime
Everything you need to know about keeping yourself, and your children, safe from online predators
A Personal Story
Middle School is bullshit.
It seems like nobody escapes the trials and tribulations of 7th and 8th grade unscathed, and it’s probably because thirteen-year-olds can be downright cruel. Even the popular kids struggle during this time because it coincides with the onset of puberty, when young humans are flooded with hormones and a newfound desire for independence. Combine all of that with a bad attitude, and you’ve got a recipe for a straight-up nightmare.
But perhaps nothing is as terrifying as receiving your first invitation to a middle school party. Usually a Halloween bash, these events are fueled by sugar and the pent-up hormonal energy of the attendees. The popular kids have it easy — they always get invited to parties. However, for the unpopular ones, that first party invitation can mean everything.
Personally, I’ve always loved Halloween parties. Over the years, I’ve come up with some awesome costumes, but my go-to was always a vampire. Each time I did it differently — sometimes as a Victorian vampire with a ruffled shirt and coattails, other times as a modern vampire like Bill Compton from True Blood. But don’t even get me started on the Twilight-era vampires; the younger generation has no idea what a real vampire looks like.
Over the years, I’ve come up with some awesome costumes, but my go-to was always a vampire.
In 8th grade, a friend of mine invited me to my first tween Halloween party. I was already going through a tough time, dealing with bullying at school and shifting friend groups, so this invitation meant a lot to me. I knew exactly what costume I wanted to wear: a classic Victorian vampire.
Before the party, my mom helped me pick out the necessary items — a white dress shirt, a black coat, and face paint — and she helped me get ready. On the night of the party, she dropped me off at my friend’s house. My friend answered the door and welcomed me inside, where everyone was having a blast. It was so much fun seeing everyone outside of the school environment, and our sugar highs only added to the excitement.
At some point during the night, as our sugar rush reached its peak, we all became hyper and silly. We ended up in my friend’s room, playfully rummaging through her belongings. Then, someone dared me — the only boy present — to put on one of her spaghetti strap shirts. Being a budding exhibitionist, I went along with it. I took off my ruffled dress shirt and swapped it with my friend’s shirt. We all laughed and took photos with a disposable camera, and then we swapped our clothes back. It was all innocent fun — just a bunch of silly kids enjoying themselves.
However, early the following week, just before school started, I received a phone call from my close friend. One of my bullies had somehow obtained the photos of me wearing the girl’s shirt, with my vampire makeup on, and had made copies of them. Their plan was to distribute the photos around school and spread rumors that I wanted to be a girl. I was absolutely mortified.
Their plan was to distribute the photos around school and spread rumors that I wanted to be a girl. I was absolutely mortified.
Through tears, I told my mom what had happened, and she agreed that it might be best if I stayed home from school for a while. I ended up missing an entire week of school. Although the situation eventually died down, the emotional damage remained. I still had to endure relentless bullying, and after that incident, I was often called a girl by complete strangers. By the end of the school year, I had reached my breaking point and decided to switch school districts, which finally put an end to the bullying.
Reflecting on the potential impact of social media on my own experience, I realize how much worse things could have been. The availability and instant sharing of photos could have amplified the repercussions of that situation. It raises alarming questions about how easily intimate and compromising content can be disseminated, increasing the risk of exploitation and victimization.
If we had access to social media platforms back then, those photos could have been shared instantaneously, eliminating the need for physical copies to be passed around. This highlights the transformative influence of social media and technology, enabling the widespread distribution of explicit and exploitative content. It serves as a stark reminder of the dangers that exist in the digital realm, where criminal activities can be easily orchestrated, leaving lasting impacts on victims and society as a whole.
This stark contrast underscores the importance of addressing digital sex crimes, advocating for robust legal frameworks, and promoting responsible use of technology. It is crucial to ensure the safety and protection of individuals in the digital age.
The Nth Room Incident
The Nth Room incident refers to a criminal case that occurred in South Korea between 2018 and 2020. This case involved blackmail, cybersex trafficking, and the dissemination of sexually exploitative videos through the Telegram app. It gained notoriety as one of the largest organized sex crime incidents in the country.
The perpetrator, known as “God God” or Moon Hyung-Wook, created multiple chat groups on Telegram named after ordinal numerals, collectively referred to as the “Nth Room.” Within these groups, he uploaded explicit and degrading pornography. The criminals used blackmail to coerce victims into creating more content, and the videos were shared on social media platforms to attract a larger audience.
Within these groups, he (“God God”) uploaded explicit and degrading pornography. The criminals used blackmail to coerce victims into creating more content
Initially, a journalist raised concerns about the sexually exploitative practices in these chat rooms, but the police disregarded the report. However, after several men reported the Nth Room to the authorities, the main perpetrators were eventually apprehended. Moon Hyung-Wook was arrested and sentenced in March 2020. The Netflix documentary “Cyber Hell: Exposing an Internet Horror” sheds light on the details of this shocking case and the capture of the main culprits.
Several factors contributed to the perpetuation of this heinous crime. The anonymity provided by online platforms allowed the operators to exploit and control victims without easy identification. Additionally, Telegram’s encryption made it challenging for law enforcement agencies to trace and shut down the chat rooms promptly. The criminals employed sophisticated techniques to conceal their identities and evade detection.
The exposure of the Nth Room sparked widespread outrage and prompted a nationwide investigation in South Korea. The authorities launched a significant crackdown, resulting in the arrest of numerous individuals involved in operating these chat rooms. The scale of the operation shocked the public and exposed the vulnerabilities of online platforms in combating such crimes.
The exposure of the Nth Room sparked widespread outrage and prompted a nationwide investigation in South Korea.
In response to the incident, the South Korean government implemented stricter legislation and penalties for individuals involved in distributing explicit content and engaging in online sexual exploitation. The case also raised public awareness about the importance of protecting minors online and combating cybersex crimes. Law enforcement agencies continue their efforts to identify and apprehend individuals involved in similar online exploitation activities. International cooperation has played a crucial role in dismantling similar operations in other countries. Steps are being taken to enhance online safety measures and provide support for victims of these crimes.
This event, as well as plenty of already existing issues, as well as the lack of legal repercussions for digital sex crimes, created a gender rift inside of South Korean culture, with women downright refusing to date or sleep with men. Although Korean authorities have made significant strides in combating cybersex crimes, there is still a lot left to be desired both at a national level, and also outside of Korea. Cybersex crimes are not limited to just one place, it’s everywhere where there is access to the internet.
The Rise of Digital Sex Crimes
The rise of digital sex crimes is a concerning global issue that affects individuals of all ages. Here are some statistics and information about digital sex crimes in the United States and worldwide:
- Approximately 40% of sex trafficking victims in the U.S. are recruited online.
- Online child sexual abuse has a prevalence rate of 15.6%.
- The United States Justice Department estimated that close to 300,000 American youth are currently at risk for becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
- Child pornography is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States, with a 2500% increase in arrests in the past 10 years.
- In a Pew Research Center survey, 41% of Americans reported personally experiencing some form of online harassment.
- Sexual abuse and exploitation are taking place virtually, with photos and videos sold to customers worldwide, resulting in more profits for traffickers.
- The global nature of human trafficking and the use of technology make it challenging for law enforcement authorities to tackle these crimes.
- In a study on digital sex crimes in Korea, female victims accounted for the majority of the 8375 victims, and 16.6% were male.
- The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported that 34% of children ages 10 to 17 have received unwanted exposure to sexual material.
- In 82% of online sex crimes, the offender used the victim’s social networking site to gain information about their likes and dislikes.
Types of digital sex crimes
It is important to be aware of the common types of digital sex crimes. Becoming aware of the types of digital crimes can greatly increase your ability to spot scammers, perpetrators, and solicitors while interacting with people online.
- Digital Sextortion: Threatening to distribute someone’s private and sensitive material unless they provide more explicit content, sexual favors, or money.
- Revenge Porn: Distribution of sexually explicit images or videos of individuals without their consent. Also called “nonconsensual pornography.”
- Cyberstalking: Harassment or stalking another person online using various digital mediums.
- Sexting: Sending explicit text messages, photos, videos, or other media, which can be illegal when involving minors or non-consenting adults.
- Illegal Pornography: Production, distribution, and possession of pornographic material in violation of the law, including child pornography.
- Sex Trafficking: Using technology to recruit, transport, and exploit victims for sexual purposes.
- Digital Solicitation for Sex: Online solicitation of a minor or engaging in sexual talks with a child, which can lead to criminal charges.
- Dating App Scams: Technically not a sex crime, but something to watch out for regardless, scammers create fake profiles on dating apps to build trust and ask for money.
These statistics and examples highlight the severity and complexity of digital sex crimes. It is crucial to raise awareness, implement stronger legislation, and promote online safety to combat these crimes and protect vulnerable individuals.
Potential Legal Issues Related to Digital Sex Crimes
- Difficulty in Prosecuting Perpetrators: identifying and locating perpetrators becomes challenging due to the anonymity of the internet. The vastness of the internet and numerous online platforms make it difficult for law enforcement agencies to investigate these crimes.
- Varied Punishments for Perpetrators: punishments for digital sex crimes vary depending on the severity of the offense and jurisdiction. In the United States, possession, production, or distribution of child pornography can result in prison sentences ranging from a few years to life imprisonment.
- Challenges Faced by Victims Coming Forward: fear of social criticism or prejudice despite being victims can discourage victims from reporting the crimes. Feelings of shame, embarrassment, and concerns about privacy and potential consequences can make it difficult for victims to report the crime.
- Impact of “Deepfakes” and AI-Generated Porn: deepfakes, created using AI or machine learning, are used to create explicit content with a victim’s face. Potential issues for victims include harassment, extortion, psychological harm, intimidation, violence, control, isolation, and reputation damage. There are also few legal options available for victims of non-consensual deepfake porn, with only a few states have specific laws addressing it, leaving victims with limited avenues for seeking justice.
- Digital sex crimes are serious offenses that are punishable by law; however, various challenges exist when it comes to prosecuting perpetrators and supporting victims. Governments and law enforcement agencies need to continue developing strategies to address these challenges and provide protection to individuals affected by digital sex crimes.
Combatting Digital Sex Crimes
Digital sex crimes have become a pervasive and deeply concerning issue in our increasingly connected world. These crimes can affect anyone, so it is crucial to understand the legal issues surrounding them, implement effective prevention methods, and provide robust support services to empower and protect victims. This comprehensive guide explores the potential legal issues, damages inflicted, prevention strategies, and available support services in the ongoing fight against digital sex crimes.
Scope of Digital Sex Crimes
- While anyone can be a victim of digital sex crimes, women in their teens and twenties are the most targeted demographic.
- The number of male victims is increasing, and crimes involving sexual exploitation of children and adolescents are also on the rise.
Damages Inflicted by Digital Sex Crimes
- Psychological harm: Victims suffer deep trauma, emotional distress, and psychological consequences.
- Reputation harm: Personal and professional lives can be severely affected by reputation damage.
- Intimidation and violence: Pornographic deepfakes perpetuate threats, intimidation, and psychological harm, particularly targeting women.
- Control and isolation: Abusive individuals use non-consensual sexual deepfakes to manipulate, shame, and silence their partners.
- Undermining consent: Digital sex crimes erode consent and autonomy, exacerbating harm, victimization, and blame.
- Harassment and extortion: Perpetrators exploit AI models to humiliate and extort targets, including both celebrities and ordinary people.
- Damage to personal relationships: Digital sex crimes strain personal relationships, including friendships, romantic partnerships, and family ties.
- Physical harm: In extreme cases, digital sex crimes can lead to physical harm, such as stalking, assault, and rape.
Prevention Methods to Combat Digital Sex Crimes
- Guard personal information: refrain from uploading personal details or photoshopped explicit images of others. Avoid sharing intimate photos online.
- Provide preventive education: implement comprehensive digital sex education programs in schools to raise awareness and empower young adolescents.
- Harsher punishment and stronger protection: enforce stricter penalties for digital sex crimes and improve measures to protect potential victims.
- Cyber strategies: utilize advanced technologies such as peer-to-peer network monitoring, automated CSAM detection tools, and web crawlers to detect and combat child sexual abuse material.
- Tackle sextortion: develop preventive measures to address the coercive act of using sexual images or videos for extortion.
- Review national education strategies: evaluate and enhance national education approaches to prevent child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Support Services for Digital Sex Crime Victims
- Cyber Civil Rights Initiative: Provides support and referral services for victims of intimate image abuse and online abuse through their crisis hotline at 844–878–2274.
- Crisis counseling helplines: Connect with verified global support services for anxiety, depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and more.
- Digital Sex Crimes Task Force Team (South Korea): Offers support services, including deletion assistance, to victims of digital sex crimes, such as the distribution of sexual exploitation materials or deepfakes.
Combatting digital sex crimes requires a multi-faceted approach, encompassing prevention, stricter laws, technological advancements, and comprehensive support for victims. By implementing these strategies, societies can strive to create safer digital environments for all individuals.