Safeguarding – Selling Personal Content Online (May 2022)

Safeguarding – Selling Personal Content Online (May 2022)

We will be looking at the topic of selling personal content online. Consider using this resource in your meetings to spark debate and introduce conversations. It would be great to use this as a tool for embedding CPD around the wider skills of Health and Wellbeing, Equality and Diversity, British Values, Safeguarding, Prevent and Digital.

Selling Personal Content Online

Making money online

There are lots of ways to make money online, but one method that has increased in popularity over the last few years is selling content on online subscription sites.

There are many different platforms where people can do this, but perhaps the best known, and the one that has entered the mainstream the most, is OnlyFans.

OnlyFans describes itself as a “subscription social network” where people can post pictures or videos and charge for views. The site can be used as a platform for different types of creators to sell different types of content, such as personal trainers, artists, and cooks. But it is most well-known for users who post adult content and can, in some cases, make large amounts of money doing so. For some people it is a side hustle, to earn some extra cash, and for others it is their only source of income. Many celebrities have found success on the platform, and it is also used by many sex workers who are able to reach a wide audience via the site.

The effect of the pandemic

The site experienced a boom during the Covid-19 pandemic, going from 7.5 million users in 2019 to 85 million in 2020. Some new users signed up because they had more time available due to periods of lockdown. Others looked to make extra cash to help them through uncertain financial times brought on by the pandemic.

The site also appealed to some who were unable to work during lockdowns, because their jobs couldn’t be done remotely, including many sex workers. Because sites like OnlyFans have gained a level of mainstream appeal, they can attract people who have not engaged in sex work before.

Empowering or exploitative?

For some people, selling online content provides them with a way to make a living or earn some extra cash, and gives them flexibility and control over their working hours. But there are also concerns that sites like OnlyFans exploit content creators and that younger internet users may be exposed to content that is not appropriate for them.

Potential users may overestimate how much money they will be able to make by selling content. For celebrities who already have large followings, it may be very lucrative. It was reported that actress Bella Thorne made more than $1 million a week from OnlyFans, and internet personality Tana Mongeau made $3 million in one month. However, most users may struggle to meet the minimum earning threshold for payout, and OnlyFans takes a percentage of users’ earnings as commission, which further reduces actual earnings. For those who do earn money from the site, it is unlikely to be a reliable source of steady income.

 

 

Health and Wellbeing

OnlyFans and mental health

There are several ways in which selling content online may have a negative impact on someone’s mental health and wellbeing. Some people use sites like OnlyFans because they are in difficult financial situations, which can be a contributor to poor mental health. Some content creators are harassed or receive abusive messages from people on the site. Some users may worry about their friends and family finding out what they do, if they would prefer to keep it a secret.

Revenge porn

Once something is online, it will always be online, and this can cause concern for many people who have been targeted for ‘revenge porn’. Revenge porn is where revealing or sexually explicit images or videos of a person are posted on the internet, typically by a former sexual partner, without the consent of the subject and in order to cause them distress or embarrassment.

The law regarding revenge porn was updated in 2021, and you will now face up to two years in prison if you threaten to share sexual images or videos of a person without their consent.

Being the victim of revenge porn can have a significant impact on someone’s mental health. Personal photos being taken out of your control can cause individuals a lot of stress and anxiety.

Hacking

Digital content may be at risk from unscrupulous hackers. There have been instances of celebrities’ photos being accessed and distributed without their consent, in some cases hacking into phones and selling the pictures to the highest bidder from the media. This is what happened to a number of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, in a high-profile case in 2014.

The 28-year-old actress became the victim of theft after a phone hacker stole nude photos by hacking into her iCloud, before sharing them online. The man guilty of this crime was jailed for eight months, but the images will always be online.

It is important to think before taking any photographs, even if they are just meant for personal reasons and not public consumption.

 

 

Equality, Diversity and British Values

With the rise of OnlyFans and other social media platforms where people can share adult content, it means that the amount of explicit and pornographic material online is more accessible than ever. The number of OnlyFans members has increased over the pandemic, which has raised concerns about who is using the site, how adult content is regulated online and who is able to access it.

Opportunities for women?

Many have said that sites like this have given women more power since they are the largest percentage of content producers online. It can provide a means of income that might otherwise not be available; it can allow for flexible working hours around other commitments such as caring responsibilities or studying.

The screen separates the performer and the ‘Fan’, meaning that it is a safer space compared to other forms of sex work. It can be easier to say no or to stop the interaction if you feel uncomfortable, giving you more control and security.

However, there are many reports of women being harassed online and being sent abusive messages by subscribers. Many young people are falling victim to the darker side of OnlyFans, at the cost of their mental health and self-worth.

Underage users

Sites like OnlyFans are supposed to be 18+, but there are numerous reports of underage users getting past the age verification, meaning they can sign up for accounts and even post their own content. Many people believe that platforms are not doing enough to prevent children from accessing their content, or from being exploited by others who use the sites.

Platforms like TikTok, YouTube and Twitch – which are restricted to users aged 13+ –have policies that ban explicit content and violating these can get users demonetised or removed from the platform. But there are concerns about loopholes in these policies and ways that users can still post content that violates the terms and conditions, and that may not be suitable for its young user base.

What do you think can be done to protect children and vulnerable people from accessing content online that is inappropriate for them? You may want to read the following article on safeguarding issues on this topic –‘The children selling explicit videos on OnlyFans’.

 

 

Safeguarding and Prevent

You may have been tempted to send naked pictures or videos of yourself, perhaps to a friend’s mobile, on a webcam, or on social media. Some people call this ‘sexting’, ‘cybersex’ or ‘sending nudes’. This makes it sound exciting and fun. It can feel private too. But all images can be saved or ‘screengrabbed’ by the person receiving it – even if you think you are using a private network or a temporary message app like Snapchat.

Once a photo is shared online, you have lost all control of it, and it will be virtually impossible for you to undo. Even if you change your mind and delete the photo you uploaded, other people may have already shared or copied the image. This puts you at risk of abuse or exploitation by others.

 

 

Know who your friends are…

Sending videos or pictures of yourself to people you don’t know is dangerous. Unfortunately, any communication with people you don’t know is dangerous. You may think your content is secure and you are interacting with people you can trust.

The truth is, anyone you send a photo can take advantage of you for doing it – even people you know in real life.

But it won’t happen to me…

Yes, it might. There were more than 1,200 Childline counselling sessions that mentioned ‘sexting’ last year. Police forces have reported many distressing cases where a young person has shared a sexual image of themselves with someone, they thought they could trust. That person has then saved the image and used it to blackmail and exploit the victim into sending them more images, demanding money from them, bullying them, demanding they perform sexual acts for them – this is exploitation, and it is extremely traumatic for the victim.

I can’t get into trouble though, can I?

Although it may be very common, sexting and creating adult content can be illegal. If you are under 18 and you create an explicit photo of yourself, you have potentially created an indecent image of a child. If you send the image to someone else, you have then distributed an indecent image of a child. If you are the one receiving the image, you are then in possession of an indecent image of a child.

Risks of sharing images online

Sharing any photographs and images of children on social media or other online platforms carries potential risks. For example:

  • Children may become vulnerable to grooming if a photograph is shared alongside information that makes them identifiable.
  • Inappropriate images of children may be shared online.
  • Images of children may be adapted and used inappropriately.
  • Photos or videos may appear in internet search results.
  • Depending on the terms and conditions of using an online platform, the image may be owned by the platform once it’s been posted. Platforms may then license images for use by third parties – such as for commercial purposes.
  • Each photo or video, and any comments on them, become a part of a child’s public image. This may affect them later in life – for example, it may affect how they see themselves, or how they are viewed when applying for a job.
Report Remove

For a child or young person, having a sexual image or video of themselves shared online can be a distressing situation. This can be difficult for parents and carers too, but there are ways you can support your child. If they’re under 18, they can use Report Remove, a service that allows children and young people under 18 to report and get removed from the internet a nude image or video of themselves that might have been shared online.

How does Report Remove work?

To use Report Remove, children just need to follow three steps:

  • Follow the instructions to prove their age. If they’re 13 or older, they’ll be supported to prove their age using an age verification service called Yoti. They will need some ID for this.
  • Log in or create a Childline account so they can receive updates on their report.
  • Share the image or video securely with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), where a specialist analyst will review it and work to have it removed if it breaks the law. They will give it a digital fingerprint to help spot the image or video across the internet and take it down.

Childline will let the young person know the outcome of their report and provide further support where needed. They can also speak to a counsellor about how they feel, whether online at childline.org.uk, or via the free confidential helpline on 0800 1111.

 

 

Digital

You might feel like the content you upload to the internet is private or won’t be found by anyone outside of the site you are using. But there are many instances online where content is not as private as you might think.

 

 

The site could be hacked

Once hackers obtain access to a website, all content can be downloaded, including hidden unpublished photos. You don’t know who might have access to your photos or what they might do with them.

This can be a risk with photos of any kind. There have been cases of digital kidnapping, where hackers take family photos from social media and pose as the children, or threaten to upload the photos to inappropriate websites which put children at risk.

Social networks legally hijack your content

Facebook takes ownership of all images uploaded to the site. Rival websites may also obtain metadata that allows users to easily download images. After photos are uploaded, you may have just given them unlimited license to use them the way that they want. Facebook is just one example; Giphy stores users’ images forever.

Content may be found by search engines

The moment an image is published, all types of web crawlers will start indexing the picture. This is how images can be found by commonly used sites such as Google Images.

These programs usually scan the source code of a webpage. Most download a photo in full resolution to create a thumbnail. In some cases, a high-resolution copy will be stored to enable quicker uploads. Such incidents raise bigger issues of ownership rights and data privacy.

If you are worried about a child or vulnerable person and want to keep them safe online, here are a few apps you can use:

Bark

Bark is one of the best applications for monitoring your child’s online activities. The software monitors social media platforms, apps, texts, YouTube, and emails. Bark looks for indications of adult content, sexting, cyberbullying, drug use, suicidal thoughts and more. You’ll receive automatic alerts when potential issues are detected.

Qustodio

Qustodio is a simple monitoring app that you can install on your smartphone and your child’s mobile device within five minutes. A wide variety of parental controls are available, which include monitoring social network activity, reviewing text messages, blocking inappropriate content, location tracking and limiting screen time. You can also manage multiple devices online from a web-based portal. Qustodio is available on a wide range of platforms, such as Windows, Apple, Android, Kindle, Nook, and iOS devices.

Norton Family

Norton Family Premier is another parental control software program that allows you to

supervise your child’s online activities. You have the tools to block inappropriate websites, while also reviewing visited sites from any device. You can restrict screen time for specific days of the week, monitor social media activity, limit personal information, and evaluate mobile app usage. Location supervision is also available for both Android and Apple devices. Detailed activity reports are sent to your inbox, or you can review this information on the parent portal to help you always stay informed.

Many parents struggle with striking the right balance with giving their child freedom, while also protecting them from the vast number of online threats out there. However, discussing these topics with your child is always helpful. For example, social withdrawal, mood swings, and trying to keep things hidden are just a few of the most common signs that you may need to talk with your child and keep an eye on their online activity.

Of course, it’s always important to be open and honest about tracking their online activity, whether they are using a mobile phone, tablet, or desktop computer. These tracking apps play a key role in keeping your child protected from many online threats, while also giving you much-needed peace of mind.

Please talk to any member of the Safeguarding Team if you have any questions or concerns relating to any of the information above.

If you want to read more, please click here.

LLC office is closed today 18th February 2022 due to Storm Eunice.

All learners will/are being contacted to advise them to “stay at home” and “do not take risks” as a red weather warning was issued for London and the east of England ahead of the arrival of Storm Eunice.