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Internet Social Networking and Sex Crimes
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The 21st Century is dominated by social networking giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Now smartphone apps like Tinder, Tumblr and Snapchat are on most mobile phones. Social networking is often harmless banter between both strangers and friends. However, there is the underbelly of social networking where the interacting is based upon sexual encounters.
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Increasing Numbers of People Hooking Up Online
The reality is that sex sells. Therefore apps such as Tinder have secured themselves a niche market share of social networking based upon sexual encounters. Users of such social networking sites may very well find themselves to be targets for false allegations. These apps allow socially awkward people to have extroverted sexual conversations which may allow for an actual meeting between individuals who are complete strangers, but those strangers are under the belief they know each other's sexual interests. What happens when there is miscommunication between two intimate strangers? Possibly allegations of sexually improper behavior?
What Constitutes Consent in Online Dating?
At the end of the 20th Century and continuing in this century, the saying "No means no" is embedded as the standard for society's social and sexual interaction. However, the lines often get blurred when social media allows for the free exchange of sexual ideologies and interests. Some perceive consent to be given once two people both access a social networking site and then the two people actually meet based upon the contact through the site. Others perceive this same meeting as only preliminary social interaction to determine if there is a common interest. The perception that is correct is purely subjective and largely dictated by the specific communication between the two people. Unfortunately, this leads not only to confusion, but also allegations of sexual impropriety.
Advice for Avoiding Legal Trouble with Dating Apps
There is no perfect way to insulate yourself from being accused of a sex crime. However, there are steps you can take when the platform for the meeting between two people is based upon internet social networking:
- First, only access social networking reserved for adults. Undoubtedly, minors will fall through these filters, but at least a filter is in place.
- Next, make sure there is a written conversation regarding age and confirm the other person is an adult. Obviously, the other person can be untruthful about their age, however society tends to distrust and dislike lying juveniles who deliberately expose themselves to sexual situations. Society largely agrees sex should be reserved only for consenting adults.
- Once an age is provided, go one step further and attempt to verify a fact based upon age. For example, someone who purports to be 19 or 20 should not have a Facebook page that suggests they are still in high school. All adults have mature indicators such as post-high school education or work experience.
- Most minors live with their parents, so it is a good idea to confirm the living situation. While it is common for some adults to also live with their parents, it is important to confirm as many adult details as possible.
- Do not ignore red flags. If the person is still in high school and does not have a driver's license, but asserts he or she is 18, assume this is false and the person is in fact underage.
The internet is full of deception. All adults are obligated to be completely aware of the situation in order to ferret out deceptive minors. Ignoring red flags will change the perception of you being a victim of a minor's deception to you being viewed as a predator of children. Following these guidelines, you can reduce your chances of ending up in a bad situation and facing allegations of rape or another crime. If something does happen and you find yourself facing accusations, an investigation or even an arrest for an internet sex crime, do not hesitate to contact us at Bleile & Dawson. Our Cincinnati attorneys focus their practice on representing individuals facing serious sex crime allegations, and we have a long track record of success helping people from all walks of life.
Accused of a sex crime? Call (513) 399-5945 or fill out a form to request a confidential consultation, tell us your side of the story, and find out how we can help.