Sextortion 1: Don’t be a freakin’ moron

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As an online dating aficionado, tragic or veteran (take your pick), I simply can’t go past articles like “Sextortion 101: How Tinder introduced me to your wife”. In fact the only better headline would be “Sextortion 101: How Tinder introduced me to your mum”, but Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the presumptive nominees, so we clearly don’t live in a perfect world. Jokes aside, the article alerts us to a very real problem online: people’s stupidity. But let’s quote the piece first:

If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering how I found out your name.

Well, first of all, let me make one thing clear: I am not a hacker. My IT skills don’t extend past MS Office — in fact when I write “Proficient in Excel” on my resume I’m bending the truth, which should make what I’m about to explain to you even more alarming. I discovered who you are in four seconds. And anyone else can too. I just held my finger down over your profile picture (or right clicked) and selected “Search Google for this image”. Then, in exactly the same way search engines look for words, Google scoured the internet for every copy of your picture that exists online. From one display picture or a screenshot of your Tinder profile I found your LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram account. Or I was directed to your personal blog, an old newspaper article about you, or your company’s “About Us” page. I gleaned your full name from one of these resources, which I used to find out everything else that you, or anyone, have publicly posted about you online. I’m talking about sextortion — a cyber crime on the rise, where the perpetrator asks for money in exchange for not releasing sexually explicit images or information about a victim. The scary part is how easy it is to do.

After you get past the horror stories, there is some useful advice to follow, such as “Use a different profile picture for every online account”. Once, a lifestyle news story like this would give you even more basic hints on how to stay out of trouble: “Don’t cheat on your partner”  or “Don’t post nude pictures of yourself on the net”. But those days are long gone, by a decade or three and a year or two respectively.

There is an element of karmic Darwinism here. If you are stupid enough to use a proper photo of self while you’re trying to find a bit on the side, or if you mix your normal photos with your nudes on one profile, you really deserve to be found out and sextorted. Moral fitness aside, your fitness to live in 2016 is in question.

P.S. If you find me on Tinder and try to blackmail me as a respectable and upstanding blogger, you’re welcome.

 

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12 Comments on “Sextortion 1: Don’t be a freakin’ moron”

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