Snapchat gives you the illusion your naughty pic will disappear, but screenshots are forever. A growing number of people are having photos of their scantily clothed selves shared unwillingly on th internet. It’s being encouraged by trends like the #1fingerselfie – where women take a photo using a single finger to cover their privates. Many New Zealanders weren’t aware of the scale of the problem until the Roastbusters scandal made headlines.
Three years on, there’s a new service which makes it easy to report this kind of abuse. In 2015, the Harmful Digital Communications Act made it illegal for people to post anything online that deliberately causes serious emotional distress. An individual can be fined $50,000 or face two years in jail, while a company can be fined up to $200,000. The majority of prosecutions so far have been for revenge porn – when a photo or video taken with consent is later shared without permission, often after a break-up or as blackmail.
One man was jailed for sending half naked photos of his ex-girlfriend to a shared work email address. Another was charged for threatening to send nude pictures of his 16-year-old former girlfriend to her mother. A new NetSafe hotline has had around 500 enquiries in its first two weeks of operation. People can either phone or email the contact centre anonymously to report online abuse, and get help removing unwanted material from the internet. Social media sites can be pretty quick to take things down, however. NetSafe executive director Martin Cocker says it is normally a matter of hours. “Most of the big social media sites and pornography sites are very responsive to requests to remove revenge porn content.
“People put content onto popular websites to increase the impact, and obscure websites to make it harder to find and remove.” But if your video gets posted on an obscure site, it could take longer before it gets removed because it blends in with the rest of the content.
How to play a safe sexy selfie game:
- If you take a photo, keep your face out of it. If you have distinguishable tattoo, try and hide that too. The same goes for photos or any specific belongings in the background of the photo.
- Use safe chat services like iMessage, Whatsapp and private Facebook messenger. Apps like these scramble your photos and messages so they are only readable for the sender and receiver.
- Make sure the person you are sending photos to knows they are for their eyes only. Get it in writing that they won’t share the photos. Think of it like a contract because that’s how it could be used in court.
- Make sure you trust the person at the receiving end.
- Know what action to take if your picture is shared. Complain to the website where it’s been posted, then call NetSafe or the police. Sharing a photo without consent is illegal.
The safest selfie game is to not have one. Once your photos hit the internet, they could be there forever.
NetSafe’s new hotline can help you get the content taken down and create a plan to stay safe online.