CYNICAL CYBERCRIME

When what you send to your lover comes back to haunt you

Sending nudes is 'the new normal' of modern flirting. But this leaves jilted lovers with humiliating ammunition when they opt to leak online

In Summary

• Revenge pornography is the online posting of explicit images or videos of a person without their consent, typically by a former sexual partner

• Anyone found guilty of circulating intimate images of another may be fined Sh300,000 or a term of not more than 30 years in jail

Technology has enabled more intimate interaction, especially between lovers
Technology has enabled more intimate interaction, especially between lovers
Image: FILE

Celebrity figures have been in the headlines after their sex tapes or nude photos were leaked online. 

At the risk of online trolling, sex tapes and nudes have also been used by celebrities for publicity and to further their brands. 

The famous Kardashian clan built an empire from their reality television show after a 2003 sex tape of Kim Kardashian-West with rapper Ray- J was leaked in 2007. 

 
 

The tape, which has been viewed more than 150 million times, made Kim famous and landed her family a hit reality series. 

Kim,38, has a net worth of $350 million (Sh35 billion), second to her youngest sister Kylie Jenner,22, who has a billion-dollar net worth (Sh100 billion). 

Kenyan celebrities have also been in the limelight after intimate images of them were leaked on social media. 

In 2015, DJ Creme was the face of controversy after a five-minute sex tape allegedly with Halima Nassir was leaked. 

The same year, singer Avril's alleged nudes were also leaked. The photos showed Avril making out with another woman.

The singer, however, disowned the photos, claiming they were photoshopped by "malicious individuals".

Ella Ciru, a 'Nairobi Diaries' actress, is the latest celebrity whose nudes were leaked by an ex-lover. The photos were shared weeks ago by a man she trusted enough to send them to. 

 

The actress also claimed the man extorted her for Sh20,000 and only leaked the images for clout. 

Devices used to connect to the Internet
Devices used to connect to the Internet
Image: FILE

SEXUAL FAVOURS 

With sexting growing widely and made easier by technology, ordinary people have found themselves becoming online sensations after their nudes were leaked, mostly by scorned lovers. 

Sexting is sending, receiving or forwarding sexually explicit messages, images or videos, primarily between mobile phones, of oneself to others, usually a sexual partner. 

Revenge pornography happens when lovers break up and the person the intimate content is shared with posts it online without the sender's consent.

Whitney* (not her real name) started receiving sexually explicit content from strange numbers on her phone in 2016.

She had decided to ignore the issue, thinking they were the usual 'Kamiti messages', but when she started receiving phone calls of people asking for sexual favours, she knew something was wrong. 

She continued receiving vulgar texts and phone calls and had contemplated changing her phone number when a friend reached out to her. 

"Hey, I have seen your photos and phone number on a pornographic site," a text from her friend read.

He proceeded to send her a screenshot via WhatsApp. Her nude images, name and phone number had been uploaded to the pornographic site, which explained the strange phone calls and texts.

Upon investigation, Whitney found out that a former lover had uploaded the photos after they broke up. 

"The damage had already been done. There was nothing else I could do but change my number and move on," she said.

With her trust defiled, she resorted to never send nudes to anyone. 

A couple argues
A couple argues
Image: COURTESY
He tagged about 50 people, me included, but I was lucky because he didn't say whose nudes they were. People talked about my boobs for two days straight
Nudes leak victim Jennifer*

DOUBLE TROUBLE

Jennifer* met John* when they were in high school during a school function and they continued chatting after completing high school. 

"We were sexting and he had sent me photos of his manhood," she said.

When he asked for her nudes in return, Jennifer sent him pictures of herself in a bra.

"It wasn't full-body nudes. I had a bra. I'll never forget, it was purple," she said. 

However, one day after an argument, he posted the pictures on Facebook as a way of getting back at her.

"He tagged about 50 people, me included, but I was lucky because he didn't say exactly whose they were," she said.

"People talked about my boobs for two days straight."

Online, people said how great her breasts looked in the photo and praised John for posting them.

She did not confront him about what he had done.

"I have never sent my nudes to anyone after that. I have taken them on my phone but never sent them to anyone," she said. 

Victor* and Joy* had been dating for a couple of months before they got into an argument and decided to take a break. 

Angry about the break-up, Joy decided to share intimate photos of Victor with some of her friends. 

"As couples do, we had shared some nudes and she sent them to a couple of her friends via WhatsApp, and they were all talking about me," Victor said.

Victor was told by a friend of Joy's that she was sending them his naked photos. 

He decided to return the favour and posted some of her photos on a Telegram group called Mafisi Channel. 

Victor first shared a picture of her face with a caption of who she was, before proceeding to send her nudes to the group.

"She found out and her defence was that she only sent mine to her friends but I decided to embarrass her on a bigger platform," he said. 

According to one of their friends, things between the two had gone from bad to worse.

"After she found out, there was a lot of back and forth between them and they eventually decided to cut off all communication," a friend of Victor's told the Star.

Illusion of privacy on social media and dating apps
Illusion of privacy on social media and dating apps
Image: STAR ILLUSTRATED

WHAT CONSTITUTION SAYS

Article 31 outlines the right of every person not to have information relating to their family or private affairs unnecessarily required or revealed. It also outlines the right not to have the privacy of their communications infringed.

LEGAL PROTECTION 

David Njoroge from Law Society of Kenya says a victim of leaked naked images may choose to file a civil or criminal suit. 

"You can choose to sue for defamation, which is likely at the discretion of the court, and may be offered compensation, or you can lodge a criminal suit," he said. 

Njoroge, a current LSK council member, said the Constitution talks about the right to privacy and dignity. 

Article 31 of the Kenyan Constitution outlines the right of every person not to have “information relating to their family or private affairs unnecessarily required or revealed”. 

It also outlines the right not to have “the privacy of their communications infringed”.

According to a proposed 2016 Cyber Security and Protection Bill, anyone found guilty of circulating intimate images of another may be fined Sh300,000 or a term of not more than 30 years in jail.  

According to GQ magazine, a reader survey to mark the company's 30 year anniversary found that 40 per cent of 16-24-year-olds thinks sending nudes is the new normal.

A 2018 report published by Jama Pediatrics in the US analysed 39 studies with a total of about 10,300 young men and women aged below 18.

It found that sexting has become increasingly more common in recent years.

Though most teenagers don’t report sexting, 15 per cent of teens say they send sexts and 27 per cent receive them.

The activity is also more common as young people get older, the study authors report.

But with the risk of unwanted exposure when the intimate becomes public, it is worth thinking twice the next time you want to share your nudes. The Internet never forgets.

*The names have been changed to protect identity

Edited by Tom Jalio