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Cyber Flashing: new online harassment

Have you ever received on your computer, tablet or smartphone not wondered pornographic pictures? Only in the United Kingdom more than the 40% of the population between the 25 and the 35 years (mainly women) was victim of cyber flashing, a new kind of harassment that has the porn as instrument of harassment.

The meaning of cyber flashing

Litteraly the word “cyber” indicates the not-place where these mobbing happen, which is the web. The word “flashing” instead is a metaphor of the images that are shared, very often in subliminal form, like some flashes on the screen of the devices.

cyber flashing bluetooth and anonymous sharing
The cyber flashing uses instruments like the bluetooth and AirDrop because they allow the abusers to act anonymously.

With the new technologies the methods to do these abuses are increasing. Especially the cyber flashing which consists in sending obscene images to unknown people through services of messaging that use bluetooth or AirDrop. This is an Apple instrument through which we can share contents instantly with other devices of the same family around us.

Why do we use these instruments?

AirDrop especially, through its default settings, allows to send to anyone in any moment anonymously images. Who receive them is forced to view them in the previews, before to decide to accept them or not. That’s the reason why it is the most used system by the criminals of the cyber flashing.

cyber flashing airdrop anonymous sharing
With AirDrop it’s possible to share images anonymously to the Apple devices up to 10 mt of distance

With the bluetooth, even if in the last years it is a system that is falling into disuse, it’s the same thing and this created a series of abuses in the streets, on the public transport, etc. The most creepy thing is that the abuser is not only an unknown because he acts anonymously, but he is even close to the victim. 

The law doesn’t help

Being it a just born kind of harassment and crime, the law isn’t able to keep up with the technological innovation and it doesn’t preserve the victims of these abuses.

Very often these events of indecent exposure are minimized and the victims fall down in a depression loop or start with support therapies without give a face to their stalker.

How to defend ourselves from the cyber flashing

Defend ourselves from these abuses isn’t easy: the web nut or the abusers with nerd skills always find the way to enter into the devices that they want. There are though small things that we can do to stay away from these abuses and to defend ourselves from the cyber criminals.

cyber flashing security
How to defend ourselves from the cyber flashing? There aren’t laws about it but you can limit the usage of bluetooth and AirDrop.

First of all we must limit our AirDrop or switch off the bluetooth when we don’t need it. For AirDrop it will be enough to go in the settings of our iPhone and select the section “Generals”. Now select “AirDrop” and choose between the options “Non active reception” or “Only contacts”. In this way we can limit the sharing to our phone from unknown.

Other abuses on the web

The cyber flashing is only the last arrived in the family of the crimes focused on the technology with mean topic is the sexual harassment. The list is very long: from the Deepfake pornography to the revenge porn until to arrive to the upskirting. Until the 2017 there wasn’t any law that said they were crimes and so who did it wasn’t punishable.

It was the Australia the first one to thing about the problem and to establish an amended about the crimes where it was mentioned that “is an offence to intentionally record or share, or to threat to record or share, a personal image or a person without his agreement”. 

How much should we wait before that even the cyber flashing will be rightly punished and a system to bring the people that hide themselves behind a keyboard to justice will be found? Unfortunatelly maybe when a law about these abuses will arrive, a new kind of online harassment will born.

This post is also available in: Italiano