Cyber Flashing: Is it Digital Sexual Harassment?

A screen full of computer code, which a person behind it, leaning against it with their hands spread. All you can see is the shadow of their palms.
Sending someone a naked picture of your … um… ‘business’ could get you into trouble, just like flashing someone on the bus!

More than half of millennial women today have received a picture of a naked man, sent to their phones via text or email. In fact, according to YouGov Omnibus, a total of 53% of millennial women have been the recipients of photos of nude men, in many cases just pictures of their genitalia. A total of one in four millennials men have sent naked pics of themselves (or their genitals) to someone. But how many of those pictures were welcomed, and how many could be classified as ‘cyber flashing”?

A surprising number of women say they’ve been sexually harassed online!

According to a 2017 survey by Pew Research Center, a staggering 53% of women who claim to have been sexually harassed online say they received sexually explicit images they never asked for. Additionally, research shows that of the women who have received these types of images, 3 in 4 say they didn’t ask for them and didn’t welcome them. If this data is correct, almost three-quarters of the suggestive nudes sent to women were unsolicited. 

One dating app is helping to fight back against “cyber flashing”

In the same way that showing your genitals or private body parts to someone without consent is considered “flashing” (which we call Indecent Exposure here in Michigan), sending someone unsolicited and unwanted sexually explicit pictures of your body parts is considered “cyber flashing.” Interestingly, the Austin-based dating app Bumble recently partnered with legislators in Texas to push for legislation making it a misdemeanor to “cyber flash” people.

There are almost no laws in place preventing “cyber flashing”

Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd approached Texas state Rep. Morgan Meyer to ask about a potential collaboration. “They had a number of people who were using the app complaining about the sending of these images, and they quickly realized there was no recourse,” Meyer explained. “There was nothing that could be done. It wasn’t a criminal offense — although it was definitely digital sexual harassment.” 

Texas is the only state where cyber flashing is now illegal.

So the pair set about creating a bill that would make it illegal in Texas to sexually harass someone via any technological medium or device. The law took effect just days ago, and it’s the first of its kind in the US. Currently, almost all states have laws against Revenge Porn, including Michigan, whose revenge porn laws were passed back in 2014. But Texas is now the only state that has a law in place making “cyber flashing” illegal.

Cyber flashing isn’t illegal in Michigan, but you should still be careful!

While it isn’t technically illegal here in Michigan to send someone an unsolicited picture of what’s in your pants, we don’t recommend it. One, because it’s rude. And two, because while there may not be a law in place making that specific action illegal, sexual harassment is against the law here. Further, manufacturing and/or distributing kiddie porn, or adult porn sent to kids, is a crime. So it wouldn’t be a long stretch for a prosecutor to build a case against you for sexually harassing someone because you kept sending them sexually explicit images when they’ve asked you to stop. In fact, our advice is: if you wouldn’t whip it out to show people on the bus, then don’t take its picture and send it to people unless they specifically request it.

Don’t let sex crime charges ruin your future!

Being charged with a sex crime is no joke! You could lose your job, end up in jail and on the sex offender registry, and have your reputation destroyed! So if you’ve been accused of a sex crime in Lansing, Howell, Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, or Lapeer, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 right now. Our experienced and aggressive sex crime defense team is standing by to help you fight these charges and protect your rights. We can be reached 24 / 7 by calling! 866 7NoJail. 

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