My attention was drawn today to Twitter account based in my home city. I’m not going to mention any names here, partly because I don’t want give the account any more publicity, but primarily because I don’t want to create any more distress for the “victims” of the tweets coming from that account.
The tweets coming from the account mainly consisted of tales of which teenager had slept with which other teenager; “[x] sucked [y] off in the toilets in [z] nightclub while her boyfriend was a home”. I don’t need to go into any more detail. I’m sure most of us can imagine what an entire Twitter feed made up of this kind of heinous gibberish looks like. I felt like I needed to rinse out my brain after looking at it.
So far, so puerile.
But a closer examination of the feed (I do this kind of thing so you don’t have to) revealed that our protagonist had also been posting naked photos of various of their victims up to Twitter’s image hosting. Images allegedly sent to them by other Twitter users after they solicited their followers to send compromising photos in. Let’s not get into the trivial matter that this is clearly against Twitter’s terms of service, because there’s a much bigger subject to consider here: some of those images were apparently from girls under or around the age of 16. This is covered under the Protection of Children Act 1978:
1 Indecent photographs of children.
(1)It is an offence for a person—
(b)to distribute or show such indecent photographs
(2)For purposes of this Act, a person is to be regarded as distributing an indecent photograph [F4or pseudo-photograph]if he parts with possession of it to, or exposes or offers it for acquisition by, another person.
a person is to be taken as having been a child at any material time if it appears from the evidence as a whole that he was then under the age of 16
(1)Offences under this Act shall be punishable either on conviction on indictment or on summary conviction.
(2)A person convicted on indictment of any offence under this Act shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than [F18ten] years, or to a fine or to both.
(3)A person convicted summarily of any offence under this Act shall be liable—
(a)to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months; or
(b)to a fine not exceeding the prescribed sum for the purposes of [F19section 32 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980] (punishment on summary conviction of offences triable either way: £1,000 or other sum substituted by order under that Act), or to both.
Pretty serious stuff then.
The operator of the Twitter account was initially bullish on the subject. Requests to remove photographs made by the subjects of the photographs were met with a flat denial that what they had done was illegal. Of course, this is precisely the response one might expect from the kind of hapless ignoramus who thinks that posting them in the first place is a good idea.
However as the day wore on, it became apparent that the account operator was rattled. There were numerous attempts to claim that the account was being operated by more than one person, an apparent account “hijack” which led to a couple of posts naming people supposedly involved in the account, and some really quite transparent shenanigans by people who were clearly close to those involved (if not actually involved), in an attempt to distance themselves from the account. The account was finally closed at about 19:30 this evening.
My understanding is that some of the victims of this account reported the account to the police. Whether the police choose to follow this up is another matter. I shall watch the local papers and report back if there are any developments.
In the meantime. Take away from this at least one important lesson.
Never EVER send naked pictures of yourself to partner or friend. EVER. It might seem funny or romantic at the time, but you never know where that image might end up.