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Thousands of Irish teens victims of social media photo 'hijacking' for porn sites

By Ralph Riegel

Published 18/01/2016

Social media photographs of teenage girls were uploaded by a user nicknamed 'Irish Exposed', who has an Irish IP address. (File image)
Social media photographs of teenage girls were uploaded by a user nicknamed 'Irish Exposed', who has an Irish IP address. (File image)

More than 2,000 Irish teens have had their social media photos 'hijacked' and exploited via vile international sex websites.

The shocking revelation came as a major Internet safety group, ChildWatch.ie, said it has identified Irish youngsters who are now deemed to be at 'high risk' due to internet users becoming aware of their identities, locations and then subjecting them to cyber-stalking.

It emerged teenage girls from four counties are involved in the latest 'image harvesting' controversy which has shocked Cork.

It was initially believed almost 50 Cork teens had their innocent social media photos hijacked, and then uploaded to a hardcore international porn site. Now it is understood that thousands were affected.

The photos were uploaded by a user nicknamed 'Irish Exposed', who has an Irish IP address.

Safety campaigner, Pat McKenna, of Childwatch.ie, warned that the revelations underline the need for legislation to be urgently reviewed.

"It is a bigger national problem - you don't have to go outside the borders of Ireland to see the extent of this problem," he said.

"This has been going on since 2008. Images of girls in their school uniforms have even been uploaded. Some of the sites they were uploaded to are fairly dire. It was pretty obvious since 2013 that this was a major problem."

Childwatch.ie warned that Ireland and other EU countries urgently need a special internet agency specifically equipped to deal with these types of online issues.

"The law is a very blunt instrument and you need a special agency that moves quickly with the times and is able to deal with these things," he added.

"These crimes are very technical and all suspected technical crimes are very time-consuming for the gardaí, because computers have to be examined and such."

The greatest concern, he warned, was that girls could be identified through geo-tagging on social media - and then be subjected to cyber-stalking from people who spot the 'hijacked' images on a porn site.

It has now emerged that girls from Cork, Dublin, Galway and Waterford had their images uploaded to the porn site.

Gardaí have received formal complaints from a number of the teens involved and are treating the matter as "very serious".

One young Irish woman, Lizzy Ryan (19), said she found it "sickening" that some people were attempting to blame the innocent teens.

Lizzy, from Templeogue in Dublin, said it was "very disturbing" that clear preferences were shown on the site for the social media photos which depicted the youngest girls.

"I find it appalling that some people out there are actually victim-blaming," she said.

She added that she knows several people left traumatised by what happened.

Another teen, Katie Kirwin (19), from Cork, admitted she found some of the vile comments on the site about the photos to be "sickening and quite alarming".

She has lodged a complaint with gardaí.

But she said she is "fuming" that it is taking so long for her formal statement to be taken.

Irish Independent

Irish Independent

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