Incidents of women being blackmailed by strangers are constantly being publicized on social media.
Personal information and objectionable pictures of women are also shared on the social media site Reddit. The BBC has revealed the person running such a group.
A nude photo of her is available for £5, message me.
I also have some porn videos.
What are we going to do with it?
There were thousands of pictures. Thousands of photos of naked and under-dressed women, the list was endless.
Obscene comments by the man behind the photo, including threats of rape. Such threatening words cannot be mentioned here.
I reached there with the help of a friend. A picture of him was taken from Instagram and posted on Reddit. It wasn’t actually a nude photo, but there were tons of nasty comments on the picture on Reddit as well. The friend was concerned for himself and for the other women as well.
When I came to know about the market I saw that there are hundreds of profiles available which are being shared and sold. All of them were posted there without the permission of the woman concerned.
world of revenge porn
A new world of revenge porn seemed to have begun, where private information was being shared without permission. Usually ex partners do this out of anger and revenge. Along with pictures, people are also sharing other information like phone numbers.
I felt like I was in some dark corner of the internet. But all this was happening on social media platforms. Reddit claims to be the front page of the Internet.
50 million people use reddit every day. Its users can run forums called subreddits. Such subgroups of users are created on the basis of various issues. Most subreddits are not harmful. But so are those who spread obscenity on Reddit.
In 2014, personal photos of various celebrities were shared on Reddit. Three years later, the company shut down some groups that were using deepfakes.
I wanted to understand how intimate photos of women are still being shared on Reddit. I also wanted to know who is behind this. I understand that banning reddit has done nothing. We found dozens of subreddits active in the UK.
I initially wanted to understand about South Asian women. Most of the comments in English, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi were made by men from the same community. Some of the women had a huge number of followers on social media, so I got to know them. I knew some of them personally.
thousands of nude photos
There were more than 15,000 photos. We took 1000 samples out of it. One hundred and fifty pictures of different women were received. It also contained dehumanizing sexual comments. I knew that all this was happening without the permission of women.
Several women were photographed from other social media. It was not porn. But a lot of obscene comments were made on that picture.
We contacted one of the women in the picture. She said that she started receiving rape threats after posting a picture of herself wearing a crop top on Instagram.
Men on the subreddit were also sharing and selling nude photos of women. They looked like selfies not taken for public consumption. There were also videos of women filming secretly during sex.
i will find you
One message thread contained images of naked women having oral sex. A message read: Anyone have a video? Various abusive words were also used in those messages.
Another person wrote: I have a full five-pound folder containing various pictures.
Another user asked: Tell me about their social profile.
Ayesha (name changed) learned that her video was posted on the subreddit last year. His ex-partner made that video. He was exploited in many ways on social media.
Ayesha says that people used to threaten her that they would send her pictures to her parents if she did not have sex with them.
The threats were: I’ll find you, I’ll rape you.
Being a Pakistani girl, sex-related activities were not acceptable in her community.
After that incident, Ayesha stopped leaving the house and meeting people. He also tried to commit suicide. After that, she was forced to tell her parents what really happened. After knowing this, his parents went into depression.
Ayesha contacted Reddit several times. Once upon a time, Reddit immediately removed a video at his request. But it took 4 months to overcome the second need. But the matter did not end here. The deleted content was already being shared on other social media sites and reappearing on the subreddit.
The subreddit that embarrassed and saddened Ayesha was run by a man named Gympomad. He could have been tracked under the same name.
Gympomad, as the subreddit’s moderator, was responsible for checking that all of Reddit’s rules were being followed. But he was doing the opposite.
Tracking him down on the subreddit, I found that he had already produced three new versions. Each time a new name, and a lewd comment included. All the subreddits had similar content and thousands of active users.
The use of nude photographs for trade has become so widespread that experts have dubbed it collector culture.
Claire Maglin is a professor at Durham University. According to him, this is not the work of a person with a perverted mindset. Thousands of people are involved in this. This type of trading also happens in small private chat groups on websites with apps and thousands of men gather there.
According to Ann, the person who collects a large collection of such photographs also gets an identity. Therefore, it is difficult to completely remove such videos and pictures from the Internet. On the one hand, deleted content will be posted by another group.
What is reddit trying to do?
According to seven women trying to remove their photos from Reddit, the Reddit company isn’t taking enough steps to help them. Four of them said that their pornographic material was never removed by Reddit, while others said it took up to 8 months for their content to be removed.
Reddit claims it removed 88,000 such non-consensual porn photos last year alone and that it takes such incidents seriously.
It is claimed to have a team of employees using automated tools to find and remove published images without permission. Various such groups have also been banned.
A company spokesperson said: “We know that we still have a lot of work to do to find, identify and act on such materials. It should be done quickly and in the best way. We are trying to understand how our team and tools can best work for this.
After the BBC contacted Himesh Singhadia, who runs the subreddit, he deleted the subreddit. In a statement, she claimed that she formed a group to support South Asian women. He says it is difficult to control and edit them all because the number of people joining the group is huge. Stating that he has never shared pornographic material, he has said: Gympomad is sorry for the steps it has taken and it is not part of their true identity.
Reddit has also removed various content we complained about.
This means that he has removed pictures of thousands of women. But it won’t bring much relief. Technology companies and law making organizations have to take concrete steps to help women.