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Cyber Crime Expert: Relationships are Better Face-to-Face Than Online

He says because of technology, online relationships it had given rise to a newly-coined term: sextortion
27 Sep 2019 16:32
Cyber Crime Expert: Relationships are Better Face-to-Face Than Online

A cyber crime expert has suggested that relationships are better formed face-to-face than risking an online one.

Savenaca Siwatibau of the Cyber Crime Unit was speaking during the 2nd mSafe Multi-disciplinary Conference on Wednesday.

He says because of online relationships, a new term has been coined and therefore is a growing concern for the unit.

“The word sextortion was coined by a group of international judges, it refers to the abuse of power to obtain sexual benefits,” Mr Siwatibau said at the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre at the University of the South Pacific.

He said there was a need to openly talk on the issue now because of its growing relevance for today’s society.

“Because of technology, there is now a new kind of intimate relationship,” he said.

“People are sexting (sending sexually explicit messages or photographs via mobile phones), sending nude pictures,” he said.

“And these nude pictures are then used to either extort sexual favors from them or to ask them to do something that they will not be able to share with anyone because of the embarrassment that may arise from the pictures that they may have.

“We are talking about it now because it is a relevant thing now. There is a current rise in the citizens of Fiji being extorted for money because of this, or extorted for favours because of this.”

He said a contributing factor was the new dynamics of today’s relationships.

“People find their love online and during this online relationship, they get intimate, share videos and those videos are then used to extort favours from them or for additional videos. Mostly it is for money,” he said.

Mr Siwatibau said it was hard to tackle these kinds of problems because people were not speaking up.

“They are embarrassed to share this with us or with any of their friends and they keep it to themselves until they run out of cash,” he said.

“There is also image-based bullying where your pictures are put online and shared around the community and everyone starts pointing fingers at you.

“The victim is embarrassed; they feel alone and that is when suicidal thoughts takeover.

“There have been a few suicidal attempts because of this, and that is why we are trying to raise these issues.”

He added such situations can only be avoided if people avoided participating in such relationships.

“To be safe, do not add people online if you do not know them in person,” he said.

“Relationships are better face-to-face than online and I think it is better we stick to the old way of getting into relationships.

Savenaca Siwatibau a cyber crime expert of the Cyber Crime Unit.

Savenaca Siwatibau a cyber crime expert of the Cyber Crime Unit.

“It is better than online. Even if distance may be an issue but you will be a better judge of that relationship.

He has requested members of the public to reach out and assist their friends, family members or anyone who they know is in a similar situation.

“Vodafone’s mSafe and mSpeakUp platform (*679#) is one of the platforms where you can raise these issues,” he said.

“If you think he is trying to bully something from you, block him and let him do whatever he wants with the images he has.”

He added they are trying to work with NGO’s to raise more awareness on this.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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