Behaving badly online

A round-up of stories featuring trolls, hackers, scammers and more.

The news that thousands of private Snapchat photos and videos had been leaked via a third party app is complicated by the fact that approximately half of 30 million account holders are aged 13-17.

Why exactly do teenagers take and share sexualised photos – and how many of them are doing it?  A study of 1000 teenagers in Texas discovered that at least 25% of them had 'sexted' and 68% of girls had been asked to send a sext.  The study also identified a smaller minority of girls (12%) who have been pressurised into sexting.  These are often girls who are not sending pictures to people with whom they are in a relationship, but to boys with whom they hope to develop a relationship. These girls are more vulnerable and are often sexting at a younger age than the other girls.

In Virginia local deputies investigated a school at the centre of a 'teen sexting ring' and didn't take long to uncover that sending and sharing sexy photos was 'completely common' behaviour amongst the teenagers.  When interviewed about their behaviour, girls said that the local boys collected the pictures like Pokémon cards.  Most of the girls did not see themselves as victims even if their photographs had been shared without their explicit permission


In the UK, Caroline Criado-Perez was campaigning for Jane Austen to feature on a Bank of England banknote when she became the victim of death threats and trolling.  Two trolls were later imprisoned.  In an interview with BBC Radio, one of the trolls who served a prison sentence described how she had arrived home drunk, logged into Twitter, saw that Caroline Criado-Perez was trending and launched her own attack.  She claimed she had fallen victim to 'the mob effect'.  The interview took place in the context of politicians proposing to increase the maximum prison sentence for trolling from six months to two years.


Two teenagers in Norway set up an escort service which required advance payment for services which were never delivered. Payment was to be made in store gift cards.  Although cheated customers did not report the crime to the police, the ruse was uncovered by the store, which noticed how many of its gift cards were being sent to just one customer.

Additional source: Why Kids Sext by Hanna Rosin, published in The Atlantic.