Our very own Scantilly model Jess Davies takes us through the harsher side of posting your sexy pictures online and how to stay safe
In April 2021 my documentary ‘When Nudes Are Stolen’ aired on BBC One and BBC Three, a film which investigated the murky underground World of the stolen nude trade.
As a model who has been in the industry for nearly a decade, I was aware that there was an issue when it came to the misuse and un-consensual distribution of images online. Over the years my photos have been used by hundreds of fake catfish accounts all trying to scam men out of money online and since some of my model friends started OnlyFans accounts, I had come to learn of huge folders being leaked on the internet of their NSFW content as men in online forums swapped them like collectors items, pokémon cards to put it so blunty. I knew of all of this and yet I still could not of been prepared for the sucker-punch to the gut that unfolded throughout my investigation which was the discovering of ‘e-whoring’.
E-whoring is a sub-culture that exists in the depths of misogyny online which sees people (usually men) steal, swap and buy women’s content- usually nudes or images of a sexual nature- and use it to create catfish accounts to scam other men out of money or food vouchers. I watched on in horror as the screen in front of me scrolled through post after post of derogatory comments about women, boasts about how much money they’d earnt off of their bodies and step-by-step guides showing exactly how you could become an e-whorer too. These folders containing tens of thousands of images of women were neatly organised under labels; ‘brunette’, ‘blonde’, ‘teen’- your very own shopping list of women’s nudes. The callousness of treating these women as if they were nothing but objects, products that men could make a quick buck online with or maybe even trade them for a pizza voucher is an unnerving feeling I could never quite shift. These women weren’t food tokens or Amazon gift cards, they were sisters and daughters and friends and neighbours, and I was one of them.
A private investigator studied all the fake accounts of me, false escorting adverts and the folder of my images and came to a conclusion- I was the perfect victim. I am so open and honest on my social media platforms, I share anything and everything and I pride myself on that authenticity. But unfortunately this has meant that my Instagram profile is like cat nip to these scammers; from cooking videos to make-up free selfies and sexy photoshoots, the wide variety of content available on my socials provided a neat and well-rounded package for the perpetrators to create a fake me online.
I think a lot of us are aware that we need to be cautious of what we post online for our own safety, but never in a million years when I uploaded a sultry photo to my members website at aged eighteen did I imagine it would be re-sold back to me via an e-whoring channel all these years later. Ten years on and my images are still being distributed, traded and sold online without my consent. I still have catfish accounts pop up in my Insta notifications with my own face as their profile picture. These days I’m more cautious of what I post online but I also don’t want to have to hide my true self because others want to steal that from me.
Putting on some gorgeous undies and taking some sexy snaps in your bedroom for your social channels or subscription site can be a really amazing way to boost your body confidence and sex life, we all love receiving compliments from strangers telling us we look gorgeous or how we’re inspiring other women to love their bodies too. But unfortunately we live in a society which still struggles with the guidelines around consent and lacks respect for us women who proudly display our bodies. What should be a positive and inspiring moment can be overshadowed when your images are being stolen and misused on the dark web, and the worst thing about it is that you may never know it’s even happened to you.
I don’t want to give anyone the jitters, but I think it’s really important we try and protect ourselves as much as possible online or at least come to terms with what could be happening to the content we put out there. Not that we should accept it as the norm, the blame is fully on the perpetrators who steal and misuse our images without our consent, but at the moment the law falls behind in regulating the internet so we have to look out for numero uno until it catches up.
Some simple ways of keeping yourself protected online is turning your accounts to private, something that isn’t always feasible if you’re an influencer or someone trying to make some money online.
"If you see your content being misused anywhere without your consent, you can serve a DMCA takedown notice to the website under copyright laws."
There are plenty of templates online for these if you google them and most websites will comply with your request. If your private content aka revenge porn is being hosted online without your consent this is a form of image based sexual abuse and is a crime, please do report it to your local police force. I know a great takedown company called ceartas.io who will seek to have this content removed for you for free, or if you’re a content creator and your content has been leaked outside of a subscription site you can pay them a fee and they will work on your behalf.
Another tip is watermarking all of your photos, it doesn’t guarantee that the scammers won’t steal your photos but if your image has your social media handle plastered all over it, it makes it a little harder for them to try and pretend you’re someone else.
Other than that, I hate to say this because I never want to victim blame anyone but please, please do not post anything online that you would not be happy for your friends and family to see. As awful as that is, there are some horrible people out there who will leak your content and upload it without your consent and unfortunately once something is online it lives on there forever.
I hope that one day that responsibility will shift onto the perpetrators and not the victims who are consensually choosing to create the content they wish and upload it to safe spaces they are happy with, but until then please look after yourself and protect your nudes.