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The Internet Never Forgets – keep your images and bodies safe

While a picture is worth a thousand words, a digital picture is like words spoken — once it’s ‘out there’, you can’t take it back.

Far too many tweens and teens learn this lesson the hard way. Sexting or sharing compromising (including naked) photos with boyfriends or girlfriends is a frequent practice, one that can backfire in a dangerous way.

Here’s a common scenario…

Before girl knows it, her topless picture is spread all around her school, passed to other schools and lands on a mysterious site on the Internet.

Girl likes boy. Girl and boy flirt via texts. Boy asks girl for picture in her bra. Girl is embarrassed, but really likes boy, so snaps a quick selfie and hits “send”. Boy compliments girl and flirts some more. Boy asks girl to remove her bra and send another shot, while “promising” to keep it to himself. Girl is convinced boy really likes her, trusts him, and obliges. Boy is so excited about the photo, he shares it with his closest friend. The good friend thinks it’s cool and passes the photo on to another couple of guys. And so the telephone game begins. Before girl knows it, her topless picture is spread all around her school, passed to other schools and lands on a mysterious site on the Internet.
The Internet is relentless… it never forgets.

Think this doesn’t happen? Think again. In my own community here in Indiana, a similar story sadly played itself out. According to the Indy Star, the photos of between 20 and 30 former high school girls were anonymously posted to an online image board allowing the girls to be identified by entering a state and area code.

“Not even all the security safeguards on a social networking profile can prevent another person from viewing and stealing photos and videos the user has posted to their profile.” ~ ISP Detective Sergeant Chris Cecil

The story goes on to report, “… the photos in question were ‘selfies’ taken by the victims and shared with someone they trusted.” The story also reports that the website on which the photos are posted is hosted outside the U.S., so taking it down could prove challenging, if possible at all.
“The key point many people fail to remember is, ‘Once it’s posted to the Internet, the Internet owns it forever,’” shared Indiana State Police Detective Sergeant Chris Cecil. A cyber crimes expert, he has seen more than his fair share of these cases as an integral member of the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, a leading model for other states around the country. “Not even all the security safeguards on a social networking profile can prevent another person from viewing and stealing photos and videos the user has posted to their profile.”

Detective Sergeant Cecil cautions parents and kids, “Friends of friends may see whatever you post and nothing prevents a friend from sharing your posts.”

How do you know if a photo of your child is online?

Mary Kay Hoal, founder and president of YourSphere Media, Inc. (… a TERRIFIC website about online safety for kids – check it out!), wrote an article outlining a simple and easy way to search for an image on Google. So I followed her steps, gave it a whirl, and here’s what I found using one of my own photos (below). BTW, to my knowledge, this can’t be done on your phone, so you’ll need to do it from your computer.

 

By Ginger Kadlec

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