Porn peddlers are stealing your selfies


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 19 Nov 2017

‘Prostweetution’ is getting common in the new wild, wild west of social media where pictures of users are being used by Twitter porn accounts to tout sex services. 

 

THE selfies you share on Facebook and Instagram could be stolen to sell sex services on social media.

Twitter porn accounts are using photos of social media users to tout their illegal services, which range from sex videos to prostitution.

“Book now. Shah Alam girl. Free hotel. Unlimited shot. RM300,” were the tweets on one porn account, complete with instructions on how to send a private message to book these “services”.

These tweets were posted together with selfies of women which presented them as prostitutes available for hire.

Some of them were photographed in their work attire. These photos were mostly taken in their bedroom, in bathroom mirrors, in their cars, and even at their workplace.

One photo was of an underage student in a classroom, dressed in her uniform and with the school badge in full view.

A check by The Star found that at least four of these women were active social media users whose personal photos, shared publicly on Facebook and Instagram, had been stolen and misused.

Two of them were teachers.

Posing as an interested customer on Twitter, The Star contacted one Shah Alam-based porn account to enquire whether these women were available for sex.

“Yes, they are all my girls. Send me the money and I will arrange everything,” the account administrator (admin) responded.

The unidentified admin gave instructions to immediately transfer the full payment of RM300 to a bank account, and show up at a designated hotel where a room and the prostitute would be ready.

The admin would not allow the option of paying at the location. Several Twitter users have also alleged that these porn accounts are scams. Two users claimed that the admin stopped responding after they transferred their full payment. They did not get their night with the prostitutes they paid for.

Attempts to contact the users went unanswered.

Such “prostweetution” in Malaysia is not new. But these stolen photos signal a worrying trend of cybercrime that involves fraud, prostitution and defamation, said Sinar Project digital rights activist Tan Sze Ming.

“Fraud and prostitution are the main crime here. As for the stolen photos, the victims can only pursue it as a defamation case, though not all victims will be able to afford the legal fees,” Tan said.

“Most people are not aware that the things they post online can be freely used by third parties for any purpose,” she said.

Facebook’s privacy policy states that content and information shared with a public audience is public information available to anyone on and off the social media platform, and can be accessed and seen through online search engines and offline media such as TV.

“In some cases, people you share and communicate with may download or re-share this content with others on and off our services,” the Facebook policy states, adding that information published as a comment on a public post will also be made public.

According to Yayasan Generasi Gemilang director of services Nick Foong, this misuse of personal photos could be damaging to the victim’s reputation, relationships and employment opportunities.

“It could also be psychologically damaging as it is traumatising to see your photo out there being used by a (porn) account,” said Foong.

The misuse of private photos and information online to solicit sex services is an offence under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

“From 2015 till July 2017, a total of 78 cases have been investigated under Section 233 of the Act for the provision of obscene content online,” an MCMC spokesman said.

He said MCMC will investigate whether there is an offence involving obscene or indecent content, and also submit a report to the social media platform provider for further action.

If there are elements of prostitution or extortion, the case will then be referred to the police for action under the Penal Code, he said.

The MCMC advised the public to exercise vigilance, reminding them not to “overshare” photos. CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM) has also received 17 reports as of July 31, from social media users whose photos were misused to solicit sex.

“We will assist to notify the respective service provider to take down the profile or the advertisement of the offending content,” CSM chief executive officer Datuk Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab said.

“We advise victim to also lodge a police report, together with evidence to support their report. A copy of the police report can be provided to us for further analysis and escalation to Twitter for further action,” he added.

Those who find their photos misused can report to MCMC or CSM’s Cyber999 help centre at https://www.mycert.org.my.

Related stories:

Lack of online privacy laws to protect social media users


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Youth , Twitter , porn , Tan Sze Ming

   

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