News and Commentary

Report: Teen Vogue, Snapchat Encouraging Teens To Sext During Coronavirus Lockdown
EW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: Teen Vogue and Aerie celebrate Emma Roberts November Cover at 58 Gansevoort on October 24, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Teen Vogue)
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Teen Vogue

Earlier this week, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation released a report warning parents that the “woke” magazine, Teen Vogue, was targeting its followers on SnapChat, urging them to practice “healthy” sexual behaviors during the coronavirus lockdown, including sending nude photos of themselves and “sexting” their significant others.

The NCSE’s report, which detailed Teen Vogue’s exploits, pressured SnapChat and the magazine, which claims its largest consumer demographic is adolescents, to stop the campaign.

The Daily Caller reported that the “center, which fights child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography urged Teen Vogue on Wednesday to stop encouraging teens ‘to create child sexual abuse material (child pornography) by sexting during quarantine.'”

“Snapchat and Teen Vogue are playing right into sexual predators’ hands,” the NCSE’s executive director said in a statement. “With the likely surge of young viewers on Snapchat due to quarantine, it is socially irresponsible for Snapchat Discover to encourage minors to self-produce underage pornography (i.e. child sexual abuse materials), thereby increasing their vulnerability to sexual predators.”

The SnapChat ads come with enticing headlines: “How to Sext: The Best Tips & Tricks,” and “Like anything worth doing, sexting takes practice.”

The advice is explicit. “Sending someone details about what you want to do to them and getting back even more detail about what they want to do to you should be fun, easy, and ultimately joyful. Anything less than that isn’t worth your time,” the “7 tips” article reads.

NCSE points out that sexting among teens can lead to serious problems.

“Research shows that sexting is often linked to offline sexual coercion, leaving teens inherently vulnerable,” the group notes. “Additionally, sexting can lead teens to be sexually extorted, sexually abused, or trafficked. Sexting is not harmless fun, as Teen Vogue would like teenagers to think, and Teen Vogue and Snapchat would be wise to stop promoting sexting to young, impressionable teens.”

Teen Vogue’s “advice” for handling relationships during coronavirus lockdown appears on a number of platforms, including on the magazine’s website, which encourages teens to “invest” in new couplings even if they can’t go on physical dates.

“If you’re in the early stages of your romance, you cant still forge an emotional bond with your new boo by texting and FaceTime. There are all kinds of creative, fun ways to sext, if you’re at that level,” a catch-all article on sustaining relationships during isolation reads. The word “sext” then links to an older article, from March of 2019, well before the coronavirus pandemic was ever in the headlines.

That article, “When is it safe to send nude photos?” instructs teens on how to find their best light and angles while naked, ensure the naked photos are wanted, consider whether naked photos are appropriate in the moment, and then warns that sending a nude is a “risk” and that “you have no control over who sees it or where it goes afterward.” Teen Vogue also notes that in some states, if you’re underage, sending naked photos of yourself can be considered trafficking in child pornography.

That last bit is good advice, but Teen Vogue still considers sending nudes as a revolutionary act: “Every time we exchange a nude with care and respect, if that’s what we want to do, the stigma diminishes just a little more, so that one glorious day it’ll no longer work to blackmail someone with sexual images. Happy sexting!”