Chat service Telegram has been increasingly found since the corona outbreak by criminals who offer illegal images, such as videos of sex appointments that were recorded without permission.
This is apparent from research by KPN Security, which monitored 106 Telegram channels for ninety days in which criminal activities took place.
The channels are open to the public, but often contain "shocking and traumatic footage," the company reports.
For example, child pornography is shared.
KPN Security also discovered a new form of sextortion, online extortion with nude photos and videos.
This new form is called dating extortion.
In addition, criminals make sex arrangements with their victims, who are then filmed without their knowledge.
The images will then be shared on Telegram.
Groups in which the images are shared sometimes have hundreds or thousands of members.
In addition, there are groups in which weapons and drugs are traded, where negative test certificates are sold and where people can go for software to scam others online.
Telegram threatens to become an accessible alternative to the dark web
"The popular chat service threatens to become an accessible alternative to the dark web," says KPN Security.
Telegram also shares links to very shocking pages on the dark web, such as pages dealing with human trafficking or where (mostly fake) murder videos can be found.
The channels sent 668,043 messages within that period, of which 24,326 were unique.
Many messages are distributed in different groups, often through the same people.
A KPN Security spokesperson says that people who send illegal messages often do so with a prepaid SIM card.
This way they remain anonymous and out of the hands of the police.
Warning for punishable content
KPN Security says it wants to warn curious users not only about traumatic images, but also about the punishable nature of these channels.
Via Telegram, the images can be automatically downloaded to a user's device.
"As a result, you have punishable content on your device, which can lead to fines and prison sentences."
The issues surrounding Telegram have been going on for some time.
wrote two weeks ago about the massive distribution of nude photos on the platform.
The people in the picture have not given permission for this.
Then members of the groups try to find out who they are, and then harass them.
KPN Security advises victims to file a report, as the Dutch Data Protection Authority has already done.
NU.nl asked Telegram for a response on Tuesday, but has not yet responded.