Popular social media figures say they are propositioned for sex almost every day, with offers of clothing, bags, and a lavish lifestyle.
Despite the policies against sexual solicitation social media giant Facebook has in place, a number of women say they have still received offers for sex that include $130,000 per year to be a “companion” to a man in Dubai, $25,000 for dinner and drinks, $60,000 for five nights with a man in Dubai, $13,000 for one night of sex, and the same amount to go on vacation with someone soliciting sex.
Tyne-Lexy Clarson, who has nearly half a million followers on Instagram, told the BBC that she was just 19 when she received an offer of more than $25,000 for dinner and drinks. After appearing on the hit show Love Island, she said the requests increased, with an agency contacting her and offering more than $60,000 to spend five nights in Dubai.
“It’s high-end prostitution. It’s just scary to think if they’ve messaged me, they’ve probably sent it to thousands of pretty girls on Instagram,” Clarson said.
Clarson, now 22, said she declined the Dubai offer, which included a nondisclosure agreement, but said other influencers might feel the need to “keep up appearances” and fall into selling their bodies for money or luxury goods.
“It’s a lot of money for some people. It’s life-changing amounts of money,” she said.
Facebook, which owns photo-sharing site Instagram, said that it invests “heavily in tools and technologies to prevent harassment on the platform.”
“Sexual solicitation is not tolerated on Instagram, and those who repeatedly break our guidelines will be banned. We want Instagram to be a safe space for people to express themselves,” a company spokesman said.
Celebrity agent Rob Cooper said that platforms such as Instagram should have some sort of mechanism to hold people responsible for soliciting sex online, such as tethering their passports to their accounts.
“I would say a high-level influencer or reality star receives these messages every single day,” Cooper said.
Another Love Island star, Rosie Williams, said she was offered $130,000 per year plus all the clothing and purses she wanted in exchange for being a “companion” to a man. She said that among circles of social media influencers, the issue is not spoken of, in part because of the shame that comes with the frequent propositions.
“You’re warned about trolling, you’re warned that your life will change dramatically, but you’re never warned that you could get bought by men,” she said.
Heather Brunskell-Evans, who works with the feminist group Object, said that the women being targeted often don’t see the propositions as prostitution, although she said that is the reality of the situation.
“The groomers are offering the woman everything she needs to be a success at her job as an influencer, but ultimately it’s exploitation,” Brunksell-Evans said, “and that woman will have to do things for that money that she doesn’t want to associate herself with, that make her feel shamed.”