How Justin Bieber's name is used by internet perverts

Filed Under: Celebrities, Facebook, Featured, Law & order, Privacy, Security threats

<RANT> Some word mash-ups - like chillax or brunch - just work. Some don't. "Sextortion", used in this recent FBI press release and many press clippings, should be wiped out of use. I'd argue that blending these two words somehow serves to trivialise a really sick crime: the sexual blackmail and extortion of children. </RANT>

The FBI has published some tips to help young people avoid sexual blackmail and extortion via social media sites. This is in response to an increased number of sexual blackmailers harassing and terrorising young girls online.

This follows a number of arrests, including the nabbing of a 27-year-old man, whom the FBI claim hacked the accounts of Facebook users and coerced hundreds of women into stripping while he watched via Skype.


A typical modus operandi, according to the FBI, is as follows:

A perpetrator, adopting a false identity (such as that of teenybopper starlet Justin Bieber), contacts a girl on a site such as Facebook, gains her trust, extracts intimate details, and then threatens to share their exchange "if she doesn't assent to escalating demands for sexually explicit pictures or videos".

The FBI advice is as follows:

  • Don't take for granted that your computer's anti-virus software is a guarantee against intrusions.
  • Turn off your computer when you aren't using it.
  • Cover your webcam when not in use.
  • Don't open attachments without independently verifying that they were sent from someone you know.
  • It's okay to be suspicious. If you receive a message with an attachment from your mother at 3 a.m., maybe the message is not really from your mother.
  • If your computer has been compromised and you are receiving extortion threats, don't be afraid to talk to your parents or to call law enforcement.

Now this advice is sound, but I am not sure it will resonnate with a young girl who thinks she is the one chosen by a modern-day David Cassidy to share all things intimate.

I would add the following, perhaps more brutal, tips:

Justin Bieber. Image from Shutterstock

  • Justin Bieber (or any singer/actor) is not going to get in touch with you because he likes your profile.
  • Most people on the web are good people, but there are jerks out there pretending to be something they are not. Some are pathetic and easy to spot. Others are skilled and can do serious damage. Keep your wits about you and protect yourself.
  • Never write things online that you wouldn't want to share with all your friends and family.
  • If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation like the ones alluded to in this article, don't hide something bad by doing something worse. Just stop, breathe and tell an adult you really know and trust.
  • If you like gizmos, this anti-peeping webcam is cute and will help protect your privacy.

This advice times in well with Tuesday's Safer Internet Day, when it was revealed that a whopping 86% of 7-11 year-olds and 96% of 11-19 year-olds are communicating online.

Justin Bieber and suspicious internet invitation images from Shutterstock.

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4 Responses to How Justin Bieber's name is used by internet perverts

  1. Guy · 970 days ago

    Why don't they teach this stuff in schools? How many 11 year old girls are ever going to see the FBI's advice, good as it may be?

    • Tammy · 970 days ago

      We do! I'm getting this article to my computer teachers right now.

  2. J2897 · 970 days ago

    Never write things online that you wouldn't want to share with all your friends and family.

    I would have included "private messages", email, SMS and any "cloud service" providers who demand to be able to intercept and decrypt your communications. Many people seem to think that if a Skype IT technician is able to intercept and view your webcam conversation, then that's okay. Or if Microsoft or Google can read your email, that's okay. Or if Facebook's staff can rummage through your private messages, then that's okay too. Whereas, personally, as I regard it as a design flaw in their security model.

  3. J2897 · 970 days ago

    ... Because the security model is designed to protect their business more than their users.

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About the author

Hi. I am a social, brand and communications expert with 10 years in senior roles in the tech space. I'm currently Sophos' s Global Director of Social Media and Communities. Proudest work achievement? Creating and launching award-winning Naked Security. Outside work, I am a mean cook, an avid reader, a chronic insomniac, a podcast obsessive and blogger .