In yet another tale that demonstrates the dark side of Facebook and “sexting” (a term I just discovered today – does this mean I’m living under a rock?), a 14-year-old high school student from New Mexico was arrested for posting a nude photo of his 15-year-old girlfriend to Facebook.
According to the authorities, the boy had repeatedly asked his girlfriend to send him a nude photo, and when she finally gave in and sent him one, he said that he would post it on Facebook if she didn’t have sex with him. She did not have sex with him, and he posted the photo. When it was taken down, he posted it again.
Not surprisingly, the police got involved, and the boy was arrested and charged with using a telephone to threaten, intimidate, and harass, among other things.
Assuming that adolescents have more or less always had the potential for seeking out intimacy in inappropriate and problematic ways, one is left to wonder: what was it like before Facebook? What is the pre-Facebook equivalent of this? The implicit cautionary message with this story – that “sexting” and using Facebook for the wrong reasons gets you in trouble – perhaps carries another, more subtle and unintentional message with it: if you’re going to behave inappropriately, don’t broadcast it on the internet or with your phone. Maybe Facebook allows creeps a different way to creep – but maybe it just exposes what they always were to public scrutiny. Has Facebook changed who we are, or is it just a new way of expressing what we always were?