The internet holds enough power to bring you crumbling down on your knees in a matter of few minutes. World Wide Web is constantly developing and the use of modern technology has spread like wildfire. With increased use of social media, the chances of falling victim to cyber blackmail or extortion have significantly increased. You hear about these cases happening in the world around you, but experiencing it first-hand leaves you in a state of complete vigilance.

On February 16, a teenager based in Dubai, was contacted by a stranger through her Instagram account. Stating her mother’s details, he struck up a conversation. He started sending her inappropriate pictures and asked very personal questions. He once demanded that she send him nude pictures of herself. Her immediate response to this shocking request was to block him. Yet he would not give up, he contacted her though another account. He became more persistent, threatened and blackmailed her by using her friends, saying that he will target them if she does not give into his request. He also threatened to send snippets of their conversation where her personal information was disclosed. He wrote: “It doesn’t matter if you block me or not. So I mean the ball is in your court. All I asked was for a few pictures and this is what you do. You have taken too long.”

Having power over someone and misusing it is not a very good thing, allowing yourself to succumb to that power is much worse. Setting her mind to not allowing the stranger to push her around she wrote a paragraph and posted it on her account along with screenshots of him blackmailing her: “You’re not obliged to send anything. Just because someone thinks it’s a good idea to push you around, turn your own words against you and blackmail you into sending naked pictures doesn’t mean you have to.”

With her post online most of her friends viewed it instantly, it reduced the effectiveness of his blackmailing, following which he immediately blocked her and changed his user name. It is suspected that he could have been from her school.

Here are a few preventive measures that youngsters can take. Always try to keep personal information on social accounts private and minimal. Block any user who might be sending you nasty messages on social media. And no matter what do not send any type of pictures. If you are being threatened straight away tell someone you trust. When online it is extremely important to use the internet in a manner that ensures your safety.

- The reader is a student based in the UAE