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Tuesday May 1, 2012

FB photo ends up on porn site

HOUSEWIFE Jules Rahim was shocked when a friend tipped her off about her photo being featured on a pornographic website.

That was not the only unauthorised use of the picture of her in a bikini, which she had posted on her Facebook account three years ago.

Last Tuesday, another friend told her that the photo had also popped up on a dating site called sgGirls.com. It was accompanied by a caption which listed a telephone number to call and how much it cost to chat.

“It’s embarrassing,” said the mother of four children, aged one to 10. “People I know may think wrongly of me.”

Jules, 32, has filed two police reports – one about the porn site and the other about the dating site.

At least two other Singaporean women have also discovered that their Facebook pictures have surfaced on these two websites.

The three are victims of what is known as “photo-jacking” – the act of stealing pictures from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and exploiting them for use on other sites.

Earlier this year, there were reports in the United States and New Zealand concerning Facebook pictures of teenagers and children which had also ended up on pornographic portals.

Jules intends to also file a magistrate’s complaint at the Subordinate Courts for intentional harassment.

“I want to sue them. These websites have no right to use my pictures without my consent,” said Jules, who is married to an assistant manager working at a resort here.

The police said they were investigating the matter but could not confirm if this was the first such complaint they have received.

The other two Singaporean victims could not be contacted as they are travelling.

Lawyer Bryan Tan, a director of Keystone Law Corp, said the victims had the right to demand that the sites remove their photos but it was hard to enforce Singapore laws on operators based overseas.

SgGirls.com is hosted in Dusseldorf in Germany, while the other portal is based in Los Angeles, United States.

In the face of such difficulties, security and social media experts advise Netizens to set privacy options at the highest levels.

“Limit access to your personal posts to people you know and trust,” said David Hall, Asia-Pacific product marketing manager of security software maker Norton.

Assistant Professor Giorgos Che­liotis from the National University of Singapore’s department of communications and new media said Netizens should think twice before posting pictures.

“Even a seemingly innocent photo can take on a new, more insidious character if it is posted on a site with erotic content,” he said. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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