‘Online fun’ in India: Sex chats starting at Rs 200 on Instagram, WhatsApp – Times of India
At a time when the government has clamped down on pornographic websites and is coming down heavily on significant social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and others to restrict pornographic content, “online fun” is the new undercurrent at play.
So, what actually happens? If you search for these keywords and contact one of these “online fun” service providers, you can expect a girl to make a video call to you on either WhatsApp or Instagram and strip live in front of the camera, after you have paid her money first. The service and the payment is entirely online. “Paytm, Google Pay, PhonePe kuch bhi kar do…(I accept Paytm, Google Pay, PhonePe or any UPI),” said 22-year-old Priti (pseudo). She was unwilling to talk to a reporter and “waste her time” because time means money to her. But we got lucky as it was a bad day for her with very few “customers” despite charging just Rs 200 for a 15 minute “session”.
“Competition bohot zyada hai..Saturday, Sunday ko sahi rehta hai but baki din online customer milna mushkil hai (Competition is tough and it’s difficult to get customers on weekdays),” she cribbed while adding that she charges at least Rs 1,000 for 15 mins to show her face in the video call while stripping. “Log harami hote hai, screen record karke woi video bech dete hai Instagram pe. (There are these wicked ones who screen records the entire video chat and sells it,” she said while rushing to disconnect the under five-minute call with The Times of India–GadgetsNow.
Thankfully, Priti was kind enough to share the contact details of another friend named Priya (pseudo) and also warned us about “uncles” posing as girls to cheat money and told us to stay away from people who charges money to share “pictures and videos of girls” over WhatsApp that are otherwise available for free online.
Porn banned but what about dating?
Dating apps like Tinder, TrulyMadly, OkCupid, etc have a significant number of profiles that offer “online service”. It is so wide-spread that you may come across some genuine profiles created by actual girls who write that they are not into this “online fun” business in their bios. The business model is all about expanding reach and what can be better than grabbing the attention of men on apps like Tinder by posting a random seductive profile photo of some girl and matching with them only to ask Rs 200 or Rs 500 for sharing intimate photos or videos on Instagram or WhatsApp after getting paid via online wallet or UPI.
“Koi model ka photo use nahi karte…hum log realistic photos daalte hai on Tinder. (We use photos of real girls),” said Priti’s friend Priya. The deal is to make the dating profile look realistic so that they can finally make some money from their matches. “Ek bar paisa mil gaya, phir kuch bhi share kar do. (Once you get the money, then share whatever you like),” she laughed. She claimed to have several accounts on different dating apps with different photos. And for the “online service” she shares some random videos or photos that she has downloaded online to her customer after receiving the payment. She is even willing to take online payments of Rs 50 on “tough days”.
The frauds and ‘demo available’
Majority of the genuine “online service” providers are already sex workers. Both Priti and Priya belong to Sonagachi, Asia’s largest red-light district, in Kolkata. Of course, there are others who hail from different corners of India. But another challenge for the “service provider” and the “customer” is the rising amount of fraud incidents. As the money is demanded first, there’s little guarantee that the “customer” would get what he was hoping for. This not only frustrates “customers” but also the “service providers”
“Agar customer ka bharosa na rahe phir hum logo ka business kaise chalega. Waise bhi Covid mein sab kuch bandh hai agar online abhi paise ana bandh ho jaye phir hum log kya karenge. (If customers lose trust then this online fun business won’t last. How else should we earn money during Covid, if not from online?), said Priya. She also said that there are a lot of guys who are into this business who simply make money by selling random photos and videos to desperate “customers” looking for a “happy time”. She even admitted that she also does these kinds of “frauds” when she is not in a “mood”.
As no “customer” will complain about losing Rs 500 to someone for trying to get an “online fun session”, the “customers” simply leave.
In order to tackle this situation, few of the genuine “service providers” have started to post screenshots and blurred screen recordings of their sessions on Instagram as evidence that the deal is real. Some of them have even started to offer “demo calls” to customers for as low as Rs 50 to convince the person that it would be worth paying Rs 500 for a 15 minutes video call. Usually, the trick here is to make Rs 500 every 15 minutes by keeping the “customer” hooked.
Selling ‘spycam’ pictures
The entire spectrum of online fun also includes selling photos obtained from spy cams secretly put in public toilets, hotel rooms, changing rooms and other private places. This is the part where “online fun” is no longer funny. In order to make money, people are using platforms like Instagram, WhatsApp, Telegram and other apps to sell “exclusive” photos and videos of innocent girls caught on miniaturised spy cams. Depending on the quality of the content, these photos are sold in bulk for prices starting as low as Rs 30 for 10 photos. The prices of videos are usually higher.
Instagram blocks porn content, but users find ways
While Instagram doesn’t allow pornographic content there’s a trick to this business. Only the image of the face of the girl is posted on Instagram and interested users are told to DM (direct message). Then the phone number is exchanged and after the payment is made online, the seller sends the bulk of photos on WhatsApp or Telegram.
Of course, content like this can be reported and Instagram does remove profiles providing “online fun” but it is just not enough as all it takes is a new email ID to join back Instagram and continue with business.