RCMP warning about social media extortions

Two recent incidents in Red Deer have RCMP warning the public about the dangers of sending nude photos. Both incidents involved youth who shared intimate images online and were then extorted for money to prevent the distribution of those images.

Police are encouraging adults to talk to their kids about the dangers of sextortion and the potential consequences of communicating online.

“We understand it may be an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s an important one to have with your children,” said Red Deer RCMP Corporal Mike Evans in a release to the media. “Unfortunately, once those images are sent, you have lost control of those pictures and may be distributed to other people; it is very difficult to have them removed.”

Below are RCMP tips for both children and parents to increase online safety.

Keep yourself safe online:

  • Think before you post – information is instant, public, and permanent;
  • Do not accept friend requests on social media from unknown people;
  • Do not share or send intimate images of yourself with anyone – if you aren’t okay with the whole world seeing it, do not send it;
  • Use privacy settings on social media and keep personal information to a minimum;
  • Trust your instincts, if anything about an interaction makes you feel uncomfortable, end the conversation immediately.

Parents supporting kids:

  • Be open about online behaviour,
  • Make online activity part of your regular conversations,
  • Encourage your teen to take breaks away from devices,
  • Work with your children on how to behave safely online from a young age.

What to do if you are victim:

  • Stop communicating with the person immediately,
  • Do not comply with the threat, do not send money or additional images,
  • Keep the correspondence,
  • Report to your local police.

Resources and additional information on ways to keep safe online can be found by visiting www.needhelpnow.ca or www.cybertip.ca/sextortion.