Even though Instagram's Community Guidelines prohibit nudity and graphic sexual poses, within two minutes, I was able to find dozens and dozens of pages depicting drug use, slut-shaming women, and graphic, explicit nudity. (Some of these photos I don't doubt are underage, which would categorize it as child pornography).
Yes, this is where a lot of teens have found their new outlet. And to be fair, many teens simply use Instagram the way it was intended, to share photos with friends and be social. I'm not sure why Instagram allows the other photos to stay online given their Guidelines, but just earlier this month, a Napa California police department investigated an Instagram page after receiving multiple reports that it contained “inappropriate” images of females.
The images were posted on a page called “napahoezexxposed." Translation: Napa Hoez Exxposed-- an Instagram page dedicated to labeling certain girls and women as whores. This is a combined Sexting and Rating Site tactic where someone uploaded photos of females (allegedly without their consent) in various stages of undress (thus Sexting) with the motive to slut-shame these girls by allowing commenters to rate them (thus a Rating Site). I've seen multiple versions of the so-called "Exposing Hos" tactic on Facebook and Twitter, but, apparently Instagram is the new technological vehicle for the same type of behavior.
Time Magazine's recent article "What Boys Want" by Rosalind Wiseman recently featured a fascinating article on why today's teens engage in Sexting, even when they know of the steep risks. The takeway I got from this article is that with this digital generation so used to the casual release of Kim Kardashian-type of sex tapes, snapping a nude pic or photographing a sexually explicit pose isn't as a big deal to this generation as it should be. Certain teens (particularly those with low-self esteem) tend to have a careless regard for their own image and reputation and just don't think about the consequences to such actions. When sending a nude photo to a someone is the only way you'll get his/her attention or keep his/her attraction, there are bigger issues here than the actual photo. The same goes for teens who request the photos as status symbols and insurance (in case of being rejected.)
Regardless, you can now see how the stage has been set for using these photos as cyberbullying currency. With teenage girls, we must keep the conversation going about alternatives to Sexting, not from a prudish standpoint, but from a reputation-destroying-forever-online standpoint. No girl wants a private "for your eyes only" photo to go virally, embarrassingly public. But, as statistics show, it inevitably will. And today, when a lapse in judgment results in being branded a whore on the Internet for all to comment on and judge, this is the time to talk to that teen in your life about that secret photo on his/her phone they hope you'll never find out about.
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