What it's like to have your nude selfies circulated online

Joe Vesey-Byrne
Thursday 04 August 2016 18:30
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Reddit users have been recounting stories about being recognised from naked photos of them which were on the internet. The results have been varied and continually stimulating.

Actor and campaigner Rashida Jones recently produced the documentary Hot Girls Wanted (2015) about the conveyor belt of the 'amateur' porn industry, and how much more easily young women can become involved in it since the internet savvy generation came of age.

The film had begun life as an exploration of the male consumption of pornography on college campuses. However, the makers of the documentary were drawn to the other side of the process, and began investigating why and how many young women become involved in sharing images and films of themselves on the internet.

Users on Reddit have been posting about their experiences from this perspective, specifically what its like to be recognised by strangers from the internet. Some of it referred to an explicit subreddit called 'Gone Wild'.

Back in college I posted on GW [Gone wild]. A guy in one of my classes saw it and private messaged me over our class messaging boards asking me to confirm that it was actually me. I confirmed (it wouldn't have been too hard for him to figure out,) and we ended up trading xbox live account names and played a lot of Halo. So I got a FPS [first person shooter] partner out of it I suppose.

Another user explained a similar story of connection because of naked images being posted online.

My [girlfriend's] younger sister is married to a guy who responded to one of her topless posts. Its pretty funny cause we always have a silent chuckle together when they tell some family member the bs [bulls**t] story of how they met. He's actually a really cool guy too. He had just gotten out of the Army and was lonely/horny, and guess what, so was she.

One user explained how some people would not only identify them, but then publicly name them on the internet, even tagging them.

I've also had people post my nudes on 4chan, along with my real name and kik [messenger app]. One person posted a couple on Twitter and tagged two of my sisters and cousin.

Explaining why some people do this, another user said:

They have no power in their personal lives, so they find it where they can.

The permanency of images posted online is another fear felt by many who have previously posted nudes and other explicit images. One user noted how, even with precautions, identifiable characteristics can leave a person exposed to being found out in later years.

Back after my divorce I let some pretty risky pictures get put online. Now as a mom to 1 and step mom to one, I hope they never show up. My face isn't showing, but I have enough identifying tattoos that you wouldn't have to be a genius:/

One user, who made porn with his partners, explained what it was like when a person is recognised by people they know, or used to know.

My previous partner was recognised by a couple of douches from her high school. They told loads of people and threatened to tell our family members... My response was to tell only my mum, who I am close with. She phoned these guys and told them to grow up and that the family knew about it and was supportive. Honestly I know my family wouldn't care, but it erks [sic] me to think of my grandma being sent a link hahaha. My ex's family might not have been so cool, but the situation diffused. Friends that were told also didn't care in general, but some previously quiet people got slightly creepy. That's all the fallout.

Another explained a much more serious incident, that involved threats and blackmail after a former partner recognised them. They also discussed how difficult it can be press charges, or identify an anonymous blackmailer who has managed to identify them. In 2015 a YouTube star launched legal action against an ex-boyfriend for posting 'Revenge porn'.

My ex found out. Booooy [sic] did he let me know that he knew. After we broke up I started getting texts from random numbers from 'someone' threatening to leak the pictures of me if I didn't talk to/work things out with my ex. Well guess what, they got leaked. Emailed them to everyone that works for my dad (150-200 people at the time), fake Facebook profiles created in my name so my friends would accept and it would just be nudes of me, emailed to various people I know, posted some of them back on Reddit with my home phone number and address (mods deleted it right away cause they knew something was wrong

For many, family members seeing the images is the worst fear. For one person from a religious and conservative family, the fear was realised, but that after they were exposed it left them with little to worry about.

My brother found a sex tape I posted of my fiance and myself on a gw [Gone Wild] sub. I come from a religious conservative Muslim family. My life was pure garbage for a month. But, I'm an exhibitionist and the damage has been done, so I'm back to posting. Literally the only people I didn't want discovering my "hobby" found out, so I have nothing to lose. I am more careful now though.

The power of nude photos is that they are elicit, and it's an act of trust to share them. It puts a lot of power in the hands of the recipient and makes the subject vulnerable to betrayal.

More: Meet the YouTube star making legal history with a revenge porn case

More: A journalist uploaded her own naked pictures to a revenge porn website. What happened next is awful

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