Tag Archives: Twitter

Hacking Group Anonymous Targets Global Pedophiles

Hacking group Anonymous to target pedophiles using the ‘dark web’ to carry out child abuse
  • Hacking group Anonymous are targeting international pedophile rings
  • ‘Operation Death Eaters’ is campaign aiming to expose ‘pedosadists’
  • Global project is building a grassroots database of international cases
  • Hopes to ultimately expose an ‘international cult’ of child sex abuse  
  • Calling on followers to research cases of high level corruption 
  • Also demands ‘end to human trafficking and abuse complicity worldwide’


Anonymous protesters with covered faces march from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square and then around the streets of London to protest austerity, mass surveillance and attacks on human rights on November 5, 2014.

Anonymous protesters with covered faces march from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square and then around the streets of London to protest austerity, mass surveillance and attacks on human rights on November 5, 2014.

In the wake of the Westminster child abuse scandal and allegations of establishment cover-ups, hackers Anonymous have decided to expose international pedophile networks.

The hacking group says it is is planning on collecting evidence against international pedophile rings and their abuse of children to find the links between different operations and ultimately bring the perpetrators to justice.

Named ‘Operation Death Eaters’ after Voldemort’s band of evil followers in the Harry Potter series, the group is calling for a global effort in exposing the pedophile rings through the power of social media.

A still from the Operation Death Eaters video by  Anonymous - the hacking group says it is is planning on collecting evidence against international paedophile rings to ultimately bring the perpetrators to justice

A still from the Operation Death Eaters video by Anonymous – the hacking group says it is is planning on collecting evidence against international pedophile rings to ultimately bring the perpetrators to justice

This newest Anonymous campaign comes just weeks after the group declared war on jihadists in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.

Now, they are building a grassroots database of pedophile cases from across the world in order to ultimately expose an ‘international cult’ of child sex abuse.

A Tumblr set up to promote the campaign states: ‘The objective of opdeatheaters is an independent, international, victim-led tribunal/ inquiry into trafficking and paedosadist industry.

‘What is our first step? We need meticulously researched and clearly documented examples of high level complicity in the industry, obstruction of justice and cover ups to show the need for independent inquiries.’

The UK version of the site states: ‘The CSA inquiry in the UK is an attempt to depict a powerful cult as a string of isolated incidents of “sex abuse”.

‘The complicit UK media is running a huge propaganda campaign to conflate torture and murder with “pedophilia” and call for understanding of “pedophilia”.

‘This is not a group of sad pedophiles who need help and understanding. This is a torture and death cult with a powerful global human trafficking network.

‘We demand that torture and murder be called torture and murder, not sex. This is an international cult and needs to be investigated as one, not simply as an endless series of isolated incidents confined to the UK.

‘We call upon our comrades globally to help us investigate and demand an end to to the trafficking networks with arrests at the top not just the bottom.

‘We demand an end to human trafficking and abuse complicity worldwide.’

The Independent refers to an Anonymous statement which claims: ‘The Westminster pedophile ring is one of many cases where Operation DeathEaters has actively pursued and sought truth, in order to end the hideous crimes concealed behind the British elite.

‘In fear of these investigations being bungled over time, the operation’s objectives are clear and simple: source public information before it disappears, push for independent inquiry, and offer support to witnesses and the victims where needed.’

Anonymous also cites a number of high profile cases and investigations in the UK including Jimmy Savile, MP Cyril Smith,the claims regarding Elm Guest House and the now-defunct Paedophile International Exchange

Tens of millions of images of child abuse are believed to be circulating online on the ‘dark web’, many showing such graphic abuse that the media is turning a blind eye to the problem, experts warned this week.

Figures from the European Commission’s Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online suggest 50,000 new child abuse images are uploaded each year – of which more than 70 per cent are images of children under the age of 10.

On January 10 Anonymous activists released a video condemning the gun attack at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which left 12 people dead.

The hacking group says it wants to collect evidence against international paedophile rings and look into their abuse of children to find the links between different operations and bring the perpetrators to justice

The hacking group says it wants to collect evidence against international paedophile rings and look into their abuse of children to find the links between different operations and bring the perpetrators to justice

In the clip, which was uploaded to the group’s Belgian YouTube account, a figure wearing the group’s Guy Fawkes mask and a hood says in French in an electronically-distorted voice: ‘We are declaring war against you, the terrorists.’

Sitting at a desk and reading from a piece of paper, the figure says the group will track down and close all accounts on social networks related to terrorists to avenge those killed.

Anonymous has previously carried out cyber attacks on websites belonging to the Government, as well as those of corporate and religious organisations.

In 2012 Anonymous crippled the Home Office’s website by flooding it with huge amounts of internet traffic.

Named 'Operation Death Eaters' after Voldemort's band of evil followers in the Harry Potter series, the group is calling for a global effort in exposing the paedophile rings through the power of social media


Hacker group Anonymous has been linked to online attacks around the world aimed at punishing governments for policies of which the hackers disapprove.

Members are known as ‘Anons’ and are distinguished by their Guy Fawkes masks.

The group are seen as anything from digital Robin Hoods to cyber terrorists for their hacking campaigns against government agencies, child pornography sites and the Klu Klux Klan.

In 2008 the online community staged a series of protests, pranks, and hacks Church of Scientology as part if its ‘Project Chanology.’

Later targets of Anonymous ‘hacktivism’ included government agencies of the US, Israel, Tunisia, Uganda, and others, copyright protection agencies; the Westboro Baptist Church; and corporations such as PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, and Sony.

In 2013 they declared war on secretive ‘chat sites’ used by pedophiles to trade images.

Last November they hacked into the Twitter account of the Ku Klux Klan after the white supremacist group distributed flyers threatening ‘lethal force’ protesters in Ferguson.

Dozens of people have been arrested for involvement in Anonymous cyberattacks, in countries including the US, UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, and Turkey.


Twitter Drags its Feet on Removing Child Sex Images

Twitter is coming under increased pressure to eliminate explicit child sex abuse images uploaded on the popular social media service as child protection advocates complain the process is taking too long.

Dozens of child sex abuse images are uploaded and shared on Twitter and in some cases have remained online for as long as a year. This is despite user reporting systems and the recent addition of tagging software.

Australian media personality Charlotte Dawson used her large Twitter following last week to suspend a public account posting images of young children being raped. But Ms Dawson claimed it was hours and hundreds of tweets before the account was removed.

An independent Fairfax Media investigation identified dozens more images of children, some who appeared to be as young as five, being sexually abused. Fairfax has since reported these accounts to Twitter.

Many of the accounts had been suspended even as they were being reported, but others remained.

The images of abuse were shared as public posts between groups of adult user accounts, attracting commentary as they were shared. One user, whose profile described him as ”loves little boys come play with me” sent a public message to Twitter last month saying: ”@twitter hi why can’t you leave my friends alone if they want to post pics of kids ppl that is their business knot urs don’t do that 2 them.”

Twitter user Christabelle Oblowski, who is based in London, said she was able to identify nearly 40 active accounts sharing child exploitation images within minutes. ”All with very obvious pictures of young girls [preteen] in various poses and states of undress, up to and including full nudity and sexual contact,” she said.

A user she followed had launched a public attack on a man who claimed to be posting pictures of his naked 13-year-old sister. ”The pictures were quite obviously of an under-age girl, and they were uploaded in August 2012,” she said. ”The account had almost 1000 followers.”

She reported the URLs to Twitter and half were suspended within 24 hours, some were taken down a few days later, but others were left up.

Twitter announced plans to adopt Microsoft-developed PhotoDNA software, which identifies images of abuse through a tagging system, in July. Facebook has been using the software since 2011 and Google has been using ”hashing” technology to tag known child sexual abuse images since 2008. A Twitter spokeswoman said the PhotoDNA software had ”recently” gone operational on its service.

”Clearly it’s failing then,” said CyberSafetySolutions’ Susan McLean. ”PhotoDNA is meant to identify that stuff behind the scenes and it’s not doing that.”

The Twitter spokeswoman said the company was working with Microsoft and Thorn to find and remove images of child sexual exploitation.

”When we are made aware of links to images promoting child sexual exploitation, they are removed from Twitter without further notice and reported to the National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children,” she said.

Ms McLean said Twitter had made huge improvements over the past year, but Ms Dawson’s experience highlighted lingering deficiencies.

Users who find child exploitation material on Twitter are urged to email cp@twitter.com and include links to the accounts and relevant tweets.

Twitter Drags its Feet on Removing Child Sex Images

Morocco: Teens Arrested for Kissing in Public

Prosecution of amorous adolescents prompts protests against kingdom’s vague public decency laws.

“THIS is the kiss. THIS is what the Gov feels is destroying the Nat’l order and social harmony of Morocco.” … “Nadorkiss hashtag’s protest. Picture: Twitter Source: Supplied

In early October, a 15-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl were detained in the northeastern city of Nador and jailed. Their 16-year-old friend, who took the picture of them kissing on the street and posted it on Facebook, was also arrested. Afterwards, a local organisation alerted a prosecutor, who then charged the trio with indecency. They were released on bail October 7.

The case ignited outrage on social media websites, and human rights groups such as Amnesty International condemned the arrests and asked for the charges to be immediately dropped.

“It is simply absurd that these teenagers could face a prison term just for kissing and posting a photo on Facebook,” Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

“These young people should never have been detained in the first place – there is no imaginable reason why expression of this type ought to result in prosecution. Launching a judicial investigation into a complaint about an act as benign as teenagers kissing is ridiculous – it should be dismissed out of hand.”

People posted dozens of pictures kissing in support of the teenagers, captioning them: “Now you can arrest me.” The hashtag #FreeBoussa (“free kiss” in Arabic) trended on Twitter. A group of about 30 people even organised a “kiss-in” in front of the parliament on October 12 in the capital, Rabat, exchanging a short kiss and chanting, “Long live love!”

The gathering was disrupted by protesters who yelled, “Go do that in America, or Europe. Here, we will not let it happen!” Still, the “pro-kiss” activists vowed to fight on.

Twenty-eight-year-old Nizar Bennamate, who was at the kiss-in, said he “believe[s] that laws should help manage conflicts among society. It also should protect Moroccans. But this law used to go after the kids in Nador is very vague.”

He was referring to Article 484 of the Moroccan Penal Code, which sets a jail term of two to five years for any indecent act with a minor; and Article 483, which mandates a prison sentence of one month to two years for any act of public obscenity.

A ‘kiss-in’ held in Rabat protested the arrest of three teenagers for a Facebook photo of a kiss [EPA]

“This arrest could only be justified if the minors were a real danger to society,” said Soukaina Benchekroun, a trainee lawyer in Casablanca. “A simple kiss, even repeated, cannot justify the placement of a juvenile in a correctional facility.”

The arrest and resulting furor also underscores the fact that Morocco, a country often regarded as one of the most liberal in the Muslim world, is still deeply conservative at its core.

“The modernist ideas maintained by the ruling elite are not necessarily in accordance with the people,” said Abdellah Tourabi, editor of the monthly magazine Zamane.

For instance, Batoul Sidaoui, a 56-year-old in Tangier, said: “If it was my daughter, I would have killed her. We are not in France here. It’s not our culture to do these things.”

Tourabi said in Moroccan society, kissing is best done behind closed doors.

“In Morocco, the separation between private and public space is very strong – a private choice is tolerated as long as it’s not thrown in the public space,” said Tourabi. “This argument is often used for the issue of eating in public during the month of Ramadan. This is how ‘the kiss of Nador’ must be read to understand the different reactions.”

In 2010, some Moroccans illegally attempted to organize a picnic during the fasting month of Ramadan – leading to their arrest and a fierce public debate. More recently, some Moroccans demanded amendments to a law allowing child rapists to be set free if they marry their victim.

In 2011, when people took to the streets calling for more democracy, they also demanded more religious freedom. In response, King Mohammed VI initially proposed constitutional reforms reflecting these demands. But the Islamic Justice and Development Party objected to the freedom of conscience clause in the draft constitution and it was changed to refer only to freedom of faith.

Nevertheless, Tourabi said he “think[s] Morocco is advancing on these issues. There are of course cases that can be considered as signs of regression – but when you see the fierce reaction they generate, you can bet that Morocco is on a good path.”



Male Prostitution Ring Busted

New Jersey Office of Attorney General

A Ventnor man was indicted on first-degree charges of human trafficking and aggravated sexual assault for allegedly operating a male prostitution ring from his North Newport Avenue apartment.


A Ventnor man was indicted on first-degree charges of human trafficking and aggravated sexual assault for allegedly operating a male prostitution ring from his North Newport Avenue apartment.

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said that Marc A. Branch, 40, of Ventnor allegedly gave narcotics to young men, including at least one minor, and prostituted them to male clients.  The indictment also charges a client who allegedly sexually assaulted a minor and a third man who allegedly tried to conceal evidence.

Hoffman stated in a release that Branch allegedly lured vulnerable young males, ranging in age from their teens to their early 20s, to his Ventnor apartment on North Newport Avenue by offering them money, drugs, friendship and, in some cases, shelter.

He allegedly gave them cocaine, heroin and alcohol so that he could control them and prostitute them to male clients, who paid up to $200 per sex act.  Branch allegedly solicited clients for the prostitution ring by advertising on Craigslist with naked photos of the young males. He also allegedly used Twitter, Facebook and other websites.

Francis H. Forvour, 47, of Maple Shade, an alleged client, was charged with Branch in the count of first-degree aggravated sexual assault. In 2011 or early 2012, Forvour allegedly performed oral sex on a male, under 16, who was unconscious. Branch allegedly offered the boy marijuana to smoke that was laced with another drug, which caused him to pass out. Forvour allegedly paid Branch for that sex act.

Forvour also is charged with second degree sexual assault on a minor and third degree endangering the welfare of a child in relation to that incident. In addition, Forvour is charged with Branch with second degree conspiracy and engaging in prostitution with a person under 18, and he is charged with third aggravated criminal sexual contact for allegedly fondling another young man who was asleep.

“We charge that Branch plied troubled young men with drugs in order to ensnare them in a life of prostitution,” said Hoffman. “The level of his depravity is illustrated by the incident charged in the indictment in which he allegedly rendered an underage boy unconscious using narcotics so Forvour could sexually assault him, all to turn a quick profit.  This type of callous sexual exploitation of the very vulnerable fits a classic pattern of human trafficking.”

“Through new directives, training and alliances, we are focusing law enforcement throughout New Jersey on uncovering and prosecuting these heinous crimes,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice.  “Working with partners like the FBI, our new Human Trafficking Unit will continue to coordinate operations involving all levels of law enforcement to rescue victims and bring human traffickers to justice.  We are maintaining a high level of vigilance in the run-up to the Super Bowl, because we know that this blockbuster event has the potential to attract these criminal elements.”

The third defendant, Shaun P. Hussey, 29, of Margate, is charged with third-degree conspiracy, along with Branch and Forvour, for allegedly conspiring with them to try to tamper with witnesses and conceal evidence after Branch was arrested and jailed in October 2012.  The indictment alleges that Forvour attempted to phone the minor he allegedly assaulted in an effort to convince him to give a statement exonerating Branch.

It is further alleged that Forvour called a relative of the other young man he fondled in an attempt to contact that victim. Hussey allegedly logged onto Branch’s social media sites and deleted photos and information he believed might incriminate Branch.  Hussey also is charged with hindering the apprehension or prosecution of another person, a third degree offense.

Branch was arrested in this case on Oct. 19, 2012 and was initially jailed with bail set at $250,000.  He currently is serving a state prison sentence for possession of drugs.  Forvour was arrested on Dec. 21, 2012.  He is being held in the Burlington County Jail with bail set at $100,000.

According to Hoffman, a state grand jury indicted Branch on charges of first degree human trafficking, first degree aggravated sexual assault, second and third degree conspiracy, second degree promoting organized street crime, second degree engaging in prostitution with a person under 18, third degree promoting prostitution, third degree endangering the welfare of a child and fourth degree maintaining a nuisance.  The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Human Trafficking Unit and the FBI Human Trafficking Task Force in Atlantic City.

The first-degree charge of human trafficking carries a sentence of 20 years to life in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $200,000.  The first-degree charge of aggravated sexual assault carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison, with a period of parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the sentence imposed.  Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr. in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Atlantic County, where the defendants will be ordered to appear in court for arraignment at a later date.  The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The Division of Criminal Justice maintains a 24-hour NJ Human Trafficking Hotline: 877-986-7534.  In addition, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in New Jersey works closely with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington, D.C., which maintains a national, toll-free tipline for the public to report crimes against children: 1-800-THE-LOST, or 1-800-843-5678.  That tip line brings leads to the New Jersey ICAC on sexual crimes against children.


Teens Form “Rape Club,” Brag About Their Crimes Online

New Zealand government orders new investigation into online 'rape club' [YouTube]

New Zealand government orders new investigation into online ‘rape club’ [YouTube]

(CNN) — Police in New Zealand say they’re powerless to arrest two boys who’ve caused outrage with online boasts about raping underage girls too drunk to fight back.

The alleged offenses happened two years ago but were only made public this week after local media came across a Facebook site, which named and “slut-shamed” girls the boys had allegedly attacked.

Her face and voice disguised, one of the alleged victims told 3 News: “I just kept blacking out ’cause I had drunken too much… You could say I got raped. I had sex with three guys at one time.”

The alleged offenders — a group of then school-aged boys — call themselves the “Roast Busters.” Until this week police say they’d been boasting of their exploits on a number of websites, including Ask.fm and Twitter, as well as the Facebook site which has been shut down.

In a video posted to YouTube, two boys made no attempt to hide their faces as they told the camera: “We don’t choose the roast, the roast chooses us … They know what we’re like; they know what they’re in for.”

Opinion: Don’t blame women’s drinking for rape

Prime Minister John Key described the boys’ comments as “extremely disturbing and disgusting,” but appeared to sympathize with police who say they’re unable to file charges until one of the alleged victims makes a formal statement. And despite one of the girls appearing on TV, police say no one is willing as of yet to file an official complaint.

Police say they have been actively monitoring the group since the alleged offenses were committed in 2011.

They say the Facebook site appeared for the first time for a couple of months earlier this year, and reappeared a few weeks ago. Officers had been monitoring the site for enough evidence to warrant an arrest but were unable to find any before 3 News informed Facebook of its existence and had the page shut down.

Police say they’ve spoken with the boys but they have not admitted anything that constitutes a criminal offense.

“We have interviewed two of the boys [on Monday] again but we’re still not in a position to take immediate action,” Waitemata police District Commander Superintendent Bill Searle told CNN.

“The online claims themselves are not enough to warrant a prosecution. They might be morally inappropriate and unacceptable to us but we have to deal with evidence that would be admissible in a court of law and we haven’t got to that stage yet,” he said.

Searle refuted allegations that no action had been taken because one of the boys is an officer’s son. The other is said to be the son of a Hollywood actor, according to local press reports.

“NZ Police take any allegations of criminal offending by any of its officers or their families extremely seriously and recent cases have highlighted that police will not hesitate to thoroughly investigate staff facing allegations of a criminal nature and will put them before the court if there is a case to answer,” Searle said in a statement.

Police declined to confirm how many boys were involved in “Roast Busters,” but said the two ringleaders led a “core group,” as well as “an associated group.” The boys were attending at least two different schools at the time the alleged offenses were committed but all have since graduated, police said. It’s believed they’re now around 17 to 18 years old.

Police also declined to confirm how many victims were involved but said it was “a relatively small number” and confirmed at least one had attempted suicide.

“There’s no doubt they’ve been severely traumatized by their involvement,” Searle said. Police have been counseling the girls since the alleged offense was reported but have yet to convince any to come forward and file a formal complaint.

“We understand it’s a very difficult situation for them — and it would be a very difficult situation for them if they were to come forward for a court case,” Searle said.

There’s no doubt they’ve been severely traumatized by their involvement.
Superintendent Bill Searle

The case has inspired a number of online vigilante groups. Police said they are monitoring online death threats made against the boys and that action would be taken if “anybody oversteps the mark.”

Student op-ed argues ‘drinking responsibly’ may reduce risk of rape

On 3 News on Tuesday evening, a group of five girls aged between 16 and 19 defended the boys as “good guys.”

“People know that they are Roast Busters and they go hang out with them and do stuff [… ] I don’t think they’re rapists, they’re actually pretty cool dudes,” one said.

Asked whether “drunken group sex” was normal behavior, another said: “It’s normal in west Auckland… Not for everybody though it’s just the young ones 13 to 15 year olds — that’s what they do.”

New Zealand Police Minister Anne Tolley told CNN she was satisfied that “police are doing everything in their powers to resolve this case.”

Efforts are also underway to tighten the laws on cyber bullying in New Zealand.

On Tuesday, a new bill was introduced to parliament which proposes a three-year prison sentence for posting material online with an “intent to cause harm” as well as other measures to stop cyber bullying.

“No longer is bullying confined to the classroom or playground — the digital age has meant tormenters can harass their target anywhere, at any time and the trails of abuse remain in cyberspace forever,” Justice Minister Judith Collins said in a statement.

“The Harmful Digital Communications Bill sends a strong message to those who continue to harass and harm others online — time’s up.”

Republishing Viral Images of Sex Assaults Has a Negative Impact on Victims

The Big Problem With How We Report on Sexual Assault Online

Young woman using laptop

instead of watching crimes unfold from the sidelines, people prefer to make use of the sharing devices in their pockets, opting for social media over mediation.


In 1964, 28-year-old Kitty Genovese was raped and stabbed to death in her home in Kew Gardens, New York while 38 neighbors reportedly ignored the sounds of her screams. Though details of the infamous event have long been questioned, it still sparked a nationwide debate over what is now known as “the bystander effect,” a psychological term used for when spectators tend towards inaction rather than intervention when others are around. This phenomenon, which was once interpreted as urban apathy, has morphed into a more active form of voyeurism with the advent of the Internet: instead of watching crimes unfold from the sidelines, people prefer to make use of the sharing devices in their pockets, opting for social media over mediation.

An example of this can be found as recently as last Sunday, when footage of a man having sex with an unconscious woman lying facedown in a Chicago park was posted on the six-second video sharing app Vine.

“Bruh she really just laying there lifeless,” someone tweeted along with an image taken from the video. The week before, people celebrating Ohio University’s homecoming weekend shared photos and videos online of a man publicly performing oral sex on an apparently drunk woman. The incident is now being investigated as a sexual assault. And of course there’s Steubenville, Ohio, where high school students infamously tweeted and Instagrammed images of an unconscious 16-year-old girl before and during her sexual assault. Two high school football players were found guilty of rape.

With the proliferation of these images, the Internet allows bystanders who record criminal acts to reach millions through social media.  In recent weeks, some members of the mainstream news media have joined the disturbing trend themselves.

On Oct. 16, BuzzFeed ran a story titled “Alleged Sexual Assault That Happened On A Sidewalk During Ohio University’s Homecoming Was Live-Tweeted” that showed the images of the alleged assault. Even though faces and genitalia were blurred out, the act, acknowledged to be potentially nonconsensual, is still largely visible.

Of course, BuzzFeed wasn’t alone. A day later, the Daily Mail ran the image, as did the New York Daily News the day after that — each publication cropping and blurring the photographs slightly differently, in an apparent attempt to justify their proliferation.

The decision to run these photos is in opposition to standards for reporting on sexual assault as practiced by media outlets for decades.

“The media has widely accepted it as a best practice for at least 30 years to not identify victims of crime by name, and those images are identifying in the same sense as the name is,” said Katherine Hull, a spokesperson for Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.

A handful of states including Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia have passed laws that ban the media from reporting rape and sexual assault victims’ names.

Some news publications have even refused to print victims’ names even if they ask to be identified or write an editorial about their experiences, said Al Tompkins, a newsroom ethics expert at the Poynter Institute.

Days after news of the Ohio assault broke, media sources began publishing the name and images of the female student identified as the victim of the attack. The images and information largely came from postings at the website 4chan, an image sharing message board with a notorious reputation. Many 4chan users took up the cause of vindicating the alleged attacker, saying that the act looked consensual.

Even though the Daily Mail reported that the woman said she was falsely identified and had no involvement in the alleged assault, it still published images of her smiling face next to text about the “venomous abuse she has received online and how she was so frightened she became a prisoner in her own home.”

BuzzFeed even published pictures originally posted on 4chan of the woman in her sorority letters, a further means of identification.

Ryan Broderick, who wrote the stories for BuzzFeed, said in an email:

When reporting on stories that involve already viral content like photos and videos that are being shared online in large numbers we usually try to include them if possible. The media is already out there and it’s important to put that media in context. We, of course, censor graphic content and the faces of participants where it is necessary. In the case of the Ohio University alleged sexual assault, we followed the same guidelines we used for previous stories that sadly involved similar instances of graphic photos going viral.

The Daily Mail and New York Daily News did not return requests for comment.

“What is the journalistic purpose for doing this?” asked Poynter’s Tompkins.

Broderick pointed to a separate BuzzFeed story that featured images, which had gone viral, of a 17-year-old girl performing oral sex on multiple men at an Eminem concert. Included in the story was a tweet, “Instagram is deleting accounts from anyone who posted #slanegirl photos. Oddly they don’t like being a platform for child porn.” BuzzFeed put a black line over the girl’s face, but it continued to distribute an image that social media sites and original posters had chosen to remove.

“There would have to be an overwhelming journalistic reason to use such an image other than this is going to get great web traffic and people are going to want to see this,” Tompkins said. 

Some outlets have reported on the photographs of assaults which have spread on social media without publishing the images themselves. The Daily Dot did so when reporting on the Chicago rape that was posted on Vine without incorporating screengrabs of the actual assault in its article.

“If you spread the harassment victim’s personal information, you’re doing her harassers a favor,” said Cooper Fleishman, an editor at The Daily Dot who edited the site’s coverage of the Chicago rape Vine. “Generally, photos illustrate and help tell the story, but if you include an image of a woman being assaulted, you’re victimizing her all over again, and that has to outweigh whatever value a reader would get out of having it there—which is not much.”

Hull, the RAINN spokesperson, agrees. “Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes in the U.S., and victims of crimes may not come forward for fear of being blamed, so publicizing the name would only open the survivor up to that scrutiny,” she said.

The Huffington Post, which did not republish the images, reported that “Vance Blanc, a freshman at OU, saw his photo go viral this week after BuzzFeed posted an edited version of it Monday.”

Blanc told the Ohio University Post that he regretted tweeting images of the event.

“People were around taking videos, and I was like, ‘I want to get a picture of this.’ I was an idiot,” Blanc said. “I put the picture up. I have to own up to that. I put it up because it had shock factor. It was something I’d never seen before. It was never meant to embarrass or harm anyone.”

While Blanc deleted the images he posted, they live on in news publications. Onlinecommentators frequently start a conversation that blames the victim of alleged assault.

“Wow. I just saw the picture. She’s definitely enjoying it,” Katch22 posted on the NY Daily News, eliciting thumbs up signs of agreement.

“I think a lot of people leaf through most publications and see the images and read the captions, so from what extent they get the full story is unclear,” said Ohio University police chief Andrew Powers.

This seems especially true for sites like BuzzFeed, that rely heavily on graphical components scraped from the web.

“Images are just that, a snapshot in time,” Powers said. “And I think that sometimes they lack context and that can be a challenge in terms of how it can frame public opinion.”