Older Brother International: OSEC

Last January 31, 2024 – the Tech Giants had their hearing in the Senate. It is an important hearing because of how they deal with Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC)

I see this as timely because of having everything accessible. Without knowing the harm it may bring. Especially with pornography being linked to OSEC. Including the harm effects it brings. 

Let me share with you what A21 said about OSEC. Including digitalsSafety tips for children & minors.

Let’s define OSEC. Online child sexual exploitation consists of many forms of exploitation against children online, including persuading a minor (someone under the age of 18) to create child sexual abuse material (CSAM) or videos of themselves, and/or participating in sexual live-stream videos, whether they are recorded or not. Often offenders will manipulate the child to engage in such conduct by first building an emotional connection and relationship with a child, to gain trust, with the ultimate goal of sexual exploitation. Perpetrators also target children (predominantly boys) with financial sextortion to obtain financial gain and grooming.

During the hearing, some families of the victims voiced out their displeasure with Tech Giants on how they handled the matter. Even US Senator Lindsey Graham said “Mr. Zuckerberg, you & the companies before us, I know you don’t mean to be so, but you have blood in your hands.”

“Never before has it been easier for perpetrators to make contact with children and teenagers while avoiding physical contact. They identify potential victims and establish a relationship of trust with the sole purpose of exploiting them. This process of recruitment can be a stepping stone to trafficking and exploitation” (UNODC, 2018).

How do you spot indicators? Here’s a list to spot them:

✔️ Earning their trust: Often, abusers will approach minors online and try to earn their trust by using compliments, or relating to them on an emotional level.

✔️ Personal information: The perpetrator will often try to avoid sharing personal information, but will ask questions to the potential victim to find out as much as possible about them. 

✔️ Pressure and compliments: They often use pressure or coercion to ask for things that would make the child feel uncomfortable (i.e., pictures/videos of themselves).

Online Child Sexual Exploitation includes:

✔️ Grooming: establishing a relationship and emotional bond with a minor to manipulate, exploit or abuse them. 

✔️ Sextortion: blackmailing or threatening a minor to share images or sexual content of themselves in order to get something, such as: new sexual content, money, meeting in person, etc.

In situations like these, children and young people may end up being the object of humiliation, abuse, exploitation, or even find themselves in a human trafficking situation.

Online grooming of children for sexual exploitation (using all forms of technology) is a growing problem worldwide. Grooming is the process by which an adult establishes or builds a relationship with a child, either in-person or online, with the purpose of exploiting them. Often, these perpetrators use images of children and teenagers they find online as their own profile pictures, to pretend to be a certain age in order to establish contact with a minor. 

In particular, social media sites are widely used for online grooming. Offenders can use the Internet to target children by scanning social media or online gaming sites to find a young person’s personal information before contacting them. Offenders then use that information to create a fake profile and request children of the same school, sports clubs, and/or neighbourhood so that they feel more comfortable accepting the request and 

interacting with them and to eventually sexually exploit them. Child Internet users are particularly open to interacting with strangers because they use social media as a way to meet new people and create meaningful relationships online, rather than solely as a way to keep in touch with people they already know.

Over the last two decades, online gaming has similarly grown into a worldwide activity for adults and children alike. The functionality of online gaming platforms has evolved and expanded to include Internet access, messaging platforms, and photo and video sharing, therefore, enabling people around the world to communicate and play games with each other in real-time. Sexual predators increasingly use online games as a means to easily gain access to and connect with children.

As I understand it, it’s because there are a number of victims who died because of what happened to them. No matter how they report to the platform they are using. It is left ignored or not being handled properly. Possibly just waiting for an event which will force them to make changes.

Sharing here the safety tips being shared by A21:

✔️ Avoid posting any identifiable information (i.e., your address, age, phone number, email, the school you attend).

 ✔️ Avoid adding people you don’t know on social media, and block and/ or report those who make you feel uncomfortable, or research and ask other friends about the requester before you accept. 

✔️ It’s important to remember healthy relationship boundaries (i.e., your right to say ‘no’, expressing what you feel comfortable doing).

✔️ Choose a username that does not reveal private information (i.e., age, birthday, last name).

✔️ Keep from taking or posting inappropriate or explicit images, and always tell someone or report to the app and/or the cybertipline if you receive a photo or a video that includes unwanted or uninvited content.

✔️ Do not meet a person you met online in person (especially by yourself); always ask permission from a trusted adult, and create a safety plan.

✔️ Adjust your privacy settings on social media so that only the people you allow can have access to your content.

✔️ Speak up. Always tell a trusted adult (i.e., your parents, an older family member, a teacher) if someone is making you feel uncomfortable, sharing inappropriate pictures with you, asking for intimate pictures, or threatening you if you tell someone. Ask for help by making a report.

On my end, I wanted to see regulations or whatever solutions that can be applicable especially with platforms. Because of the dangers it has. And also we need to have a safe space for the youth to use the internet. These changes can make an impact in making sure we have safe space

Linette Filipino

IG & Twitter: @holaitslinz

Email: holaitslinz@gmail.com

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