Last October, a Canadian teenager named Amanda Todd hung herself at her home in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. Five weeks before committing suicide, Amanda posted a video to YouTube detailing years of harassment she’d undergone after being coaxed to flash an anonymous guy via webcam. In the video, she describes how this man continually blackmailed her into performing live-streamed strip shows. He used the topless images he had of Amanda as leverage, threatening to send them to her friends and family if she didn’t comply.
Amanda’s death was widely covered in the mainstream media, with most reporters and law-enforcement officials using the term “cyberbullying” to describe its cause. But this blanket term fails to adequately describe what was a complicated case of sexual extortion and abusive humiliation perpetrated by a blackmailer with a penchant for naked underage girls. Even worse, it was not an isolated incident. The most despicable corners of the internet house a byzantine network devoted to sharing screen-captured images of naked—and often underage—girls. And quite a few of these individuals get off on manipulating, blackmailing, and shaming the young women they encounter.
On the surface, there are the mainstream and highly popular public video-chat sites like blogTV and Stickam, designed to provide an audience for anyone with a webcam and an internet connection. If you’re a Yankees fan, you can jump on blogTV to discuss the latest game; if you’re a pedophile, you can lurk around and wait for young girls to sign on. At any given time on the site, it’s not unusual to find five or six underage females publicly chatting with an audience of up to 100 people each.
The predatory scumbags who monitor these mainstream sites share the links with fellow pedophiles in chat rooms on smaller sites like Chateen and Vichatter. There are dozens of users who lurk in these chat rooms, waiting for someone to link to a girl streaming live via webcam.
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