Online Manipulation is when someone, uses the internet or online tools to trick, pressure or force you into doing something you wouldn’t usually do. The abuser / groomer will make you feel good, admired and appreciated. He/She will work very hard to make an emotional connection with you as this will help him/her gain your trust before they will ask you to do anything that could be used as blackmail against you.
Types of Online Manipulation Include:
Online Grooming – read more about online grooming and the youth here, as well as how to keep them safe online
Online Harassment – There are many kinds of online harassment out there, from the annoying (rude comments made by online trolls) to the invasive (doxing) to the traumatic (cyberstalking, threats of violence, and everything in-between). Learn more here.
Online Sextortion – Many people use webcams for flirting and cybersex – but sometimes people you meet online aren’t who they say they are. Criminals might befriend victims online by using a fake identity and then persuade them to perform sexual acts in front of their webcam, often by using an attractive woman to entice the victim to participate. Learn more here.
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What are some of the signs that the person you are talking to online could be grooming or wanting to manipulate you?
- He/She sends you an excessive amount of messages: This could be through Facebook, WhatsApp, Wechat, Instagram, Twitter and even LinkedIn – essentially any communication platform where private messaging is an option.
- He/She asks you to keep conversations secret: They will ask you to TRUST them, tell you they’re lonely, have nobody else to talk to, etc.
- The conversation turns sexual: sexting or excessive requests for sexual videos and images. He/She may also send sexual messages or pictures to you without your request .
- He/She tries to find out more about your device security: They will also ask if your device is secure and who else has access to it.
- He/She sends and requests sexual messages: For example, “Do you like being kissed?” or “What are your sexual preferences?”
- He/She asks you to share your personal information more than they are willing to tell you about their personal information: For example, “are you married”, “are you at school”, where you work and live etc.
Every scenario is different. Online abusers are so deceitful that you will often never know if they are male, female, young, old or even a friend being impersonated which is why it is VERY IMPORTANT to understand the dangers of talking to strangers online.
Be very careful of sharing images and videos of yourself or anyone else you know. Once you send them, you have no control over what happens to them. The recipients could post them online, or share them with people who might keep sharing them. They often also sell them to porn sites.
The abuser / groomer almost always tries to blackmail you: after persuading you to send sexual images of yourself by making you feel that if you don’t you will hurt their feelings or not trust them, they will threaten to post your image online or show them to your friends and family – but if you keep sending, they will keep the imagery safe. They could also ask you for money to stop them sharing the images.
If you believe that you are being groomed or manipulated online please do the following:
- Report the online abuse to the platform it has occurred on
- Screenshot all messages and as much information about the profile that is abusing / grooming you so as to build a portfolio of evidence
- Block the abuser / groomer on all online platforms and don’t accept any new friend requests from profiles you are unsure of
- Report the case to your local Police Station – make sure you have your portfolio of evidence with you