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


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

Instagram recently announced that the photo and video-sharing platform popular among young users will be taking new steps to combat sexual extortion, or sextortion — a crime that continues to victimize more people, including minors, according to the FBI.

Sextortion is a social media crime trend in which bad actors entice or solicit a minor to engage in sexual acts or send blackmail money, according to the FBI, which received more than 13,000 reports of online financial sextortion involving at least 12,600 victims between October 2021 and March 2023.

“Companies have a responsibility to ensure the protection of minors who use their platforms,” John Shehan, senior vice president of National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, (NCMEC) said in a response to Meta’s new features to prevent sextortion on Instagram. “Meta’s proposed device-side safety measures within its encrypted environment is encouraging. We are hopeful these new measures will increase reporting by minors and curb the circulation of online child exploitation.”

A new Instagram feature called Nudity Protection, which will be turned on by default for users under 18, will blur nude images sent through direct messages (DMs) on the app and will prompt users with messages when the app detects nudity in a user’s DMs. 

AFTER MICHIGAN TEEN’S SUICIDE, NIGERIAN BROTHERS PLEAD GUILTY TO PLANNING DEADLY SEXTORTION SCHEME

Instagram's new Nudity Protection feature

A new Instagram feature called Nudity Protection, which will be turned on by default for users under 18, will blur nude images sent through direct messages (DMs) on the app and prompt users with messages when the app detects nudity in a user’s DMs. (Meta)

Instagram users with the Nudity Protection feature turned on will also “see a message encouraging them to reconsider” when they try to send a nude photo detected by the app, according to an April 11 press release from Meta.

Additionally, users will get “tips” when they send or receive nude images reminding them that “people may screenshot or forward images without your knowledge, that your relationship to the person may change in the future, and that you should review profiles carefully in case they’re not who they say they are,” the press release states. Instagram will prompt users with a link to various resources curated by experts.

FATHER OF TEEN SEXTORTION VICTIM WARNS OF ‘ALARMING’ FBI REPORT

Instagram's new Nudity Protection feature

Instagram users with the Nudity Protection feature turned on will also “see a message encouraging them to reconsider” when they try to send a nude photo detected by the app, according to an April 11 press release from Meta. (Meta)

They also link to a range of resources, including NCMEC’s free service called “Take it Down,” which is meant to help victims of sextortion erase explicit images of victims or get bad actors to stop sharing them online. The tool can be accessed at https://takeitdown.ncmec.org.

Meta’s announcement came the same day two Nigerian nationals, who were extradited to the U.S., pleaded guilty to conspiring to sexually exploit teenage boys through sextortion two years after one such scheme led to a Michigan teenager’s suicide.

MICHIGAN FAMILY SOUNDS ALARM ON SON’S ‘SEXTORTION’ SUICIDE AFTER ARRESTS OF 3 NIGERIAN MEN

Jordan DeMay was 17 years old when Samuel Ogoshi, 22, and his brother, Samson Ogoshi, 20, both of Nigeria, posed as a woman on Instagram using a hacked account and struck up a conversation with the teenager, ultimately blackmailing him into sending money and threatening him for more until he took his own life in March 2022.

Nigerian brothers Samuel and Samson Ogoshi mugshots

Nigerian brothers Samuel and Samson Ogoshi pleaded guilty to conspiring to extort minors. (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission)

“Nothing is a coincidence with them,” Jordan’s father, John DeMay, told Fox News Digital on Instagram’s announcement last week. “Jordan’s case is the first one in history that has been … extradited and prosecuted on the sextortion level. Meta … and other social media companies that are watching this case, and they’re paying attention to what’s happening because it’s the first in history.”

DeMay filed a civil lawsuit against Meta after his son’s death. 

FBI WARNS TEEN BOYS INCREASINGLY TARGETED IN ONLINE ‘SEXTORTION’ SCHEMES

“There is responsibility for them … and we’re hoping that other families will follow suit,” he said. “Some of them are and some of them are going to. But there are a lot of protections with social media companies right now, and we’re trying to tear down some of those barriers to be able to allow families that have been victims because of of [the companies’] actions and not actions, and hold them accountable financially, because the only way that they’re going to stop doing it is to hit them in the pocketbook.”

Jordan Demay

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

The same night the Ogoshis started communicating with Jodan through Instagram, the teenager sent an explicit photo of himself to the account that he thought belonged to a woman. Samuel Ogoshi threatened to expose it and make it go “viral” online if Jordan did not immediately send money, prosecutors said. Jordan complied and sent the suspect money, but the crime only escalated from there as Ogoshi demanded more and more money from the 17-year-old.

The exchange went on for hours that evening until Jordan told Samuel Ogoshi that he was going to kill himself.

WARNING SIGNS OF SUICIDE: WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT PREVENTION, RED FLAGS AND HOW TO DEAL WITH THE ISSUE

“Good,” Samuel Ogoshi wrote. “Do that fast. Or I’ll make you do it. I swear to God.”

Jordan DeMay holding a football

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

The Ogoshi brothers face a minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years for each charge of conspiracy to sexually exploit minors. An indictment against the two brothers alleged they were involved in hundreds of similar schemes – many involving minors.

The average age of sextortion victims is between 14 and 17 years old, the FBI said in a press release earlier this year, but the agency noted that any child can become a victim. Offenders of financially motivated sextortion typically originate from African and Southeast Asian countries, according to the FBI. The FBI also saw a 20% increase in sextortion incidents involving minors between October 2022 and March 2023.

GROWING ‘SEXTORTION’ TREND TRICKS BOYS INTO SENDING EXPLICIT IMAGES THROUGH GAMING SITES, EXTORTED FOR MONEY

Sextortion can lead to suicide and self-harm. Between October 2021 and March 2023, the majority of online financial extortion victims were boys. These reports involved at least 20 suicides, the FBI said. 

WATCH: John DeMay speaks about son’s sextortion

Christopher Dietzel, research associate on the iMPACTS Project at McGill University, called on Meta to do more to prevent sextortion.

“Automatically blurring nude images in direct messages is not enough, nor does it address the potential for sextortion, since perpetrators can still save, share, and use these images to abuse and exploit their victims,” Dietzel said. “Instagram and other social media companies need to put policies and measures in place that hold perpetrators accountable, address the dissemination and exploitation of non-consensual sexual images, and educate young people about potential harms.”  

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Melissa Henson, vice president of the Parents Television and Media Council, called on Congress to pass “online child protection legislation like the Kids Online Safety Act, the Children and Teens Online Privacy Protection Act 2.0, the EARN IT Act, among others.”

“[T]here is simply no reason, and no excuse, for Congress not to ensure our children are better protected online,” Henson said. “Our children face an online world that is primarily designed for adults, with little to no protections for them. They are up against powerful algorithms that feed harmful content to them. They can interact with adults who may turn out to be predators and fall victim to sextortion schemes. They can access sexually explicit and graphically violent content with a click of a button. Congress must hold the tech industry accountable for protecting our children.”



Also Read More: World News | Entertainment News | Celeb News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Employees from Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum walk out in support of Palestine

A Seattle-based museum is temporarily closed after employees accused its “Confronting Hate…

Rishi Sunak pledges £17bn in tax cuts to revive Tory election bid

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free Rishi Sunak has pledged more than…

The equity rally is on pause

This article is an onsite version of our Unhedged newsletter. Premium subscribers…

My wife thinks it is too risky, how do I convince her

This conversation helps you both give context to the fear. Instead of…