Sextortion Scams; AI Could Invluence Elections; Public Art

Sextortion Scams

January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and the F-B-I says financially motivated sextortion – often targeting teen boys – went up 20 percent from October 2022 to March 2023. Scammers will pose as an attractive girl on social media or gaming sites, ask the boy to send nude photos or videos, then threaten to post them online if the victim doesn’t pay up. F-B-I Special Agent Curtis Cox says the threats often cause extreme mental anguish.

“That fear of being exposed that way causes these kids to panic, sometimes they attempt to make the payments, which is a big mistake. It doesn’t solve the problem. It only exacerbates it. And unfortunately, oftentimes we see this anxiety lead to self-harm or thoughts of suicide.”

The F-B-I says between October 2021 and March 2023, the feds got more than 13-thousand reports of online financial sextortion of minors, involving more than 12-thousand-600 victims, which the agency said contributed to at least 20 suicides.

AI Could Invluence Elections

The rise of artificial intelligence is raising alarm bells for election officials across the country. Before the New Hampshire primary, a robocall imitating President Joe Biden called voters and told them not to vote. It’s seen as a potential preview of what voters could be in for as the 2024 general election approaches. Rachel Orey is the senior associate director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s elections project. She says while incidences like the one om New Hampshire might be isolated, A-I could have other consequences.

“Our bigger concern is what’s known as a liar’s dividend, that even when there are instances of generative AI being used to target voters with false information, they feed into this bigger risk that the presence of false information makes voters trust any information less.”

Orey says the past few years have seen a near constant assault on accurate voting information, which has made it challenging for good information to reach voters. Oregon’s Republican and Democratic primary elections are on May 21st.

Public Art

The Public Arts committee of Florence Met today to review artist submissions for several new displays that will be showing off art to the visitors and residents in Florence.

“There are 6 new sites along the revision Florence corridor that we do not currently have art on.”

City manager Erin Reynolds says the plan is to have the selection down to 3 pieces per location to choose from which would mean a total of 18 potential artists that could see their work displayed on the streets. The final selections will come down to a meeting on February 15th at 5:30 at City Hall.