Images of Irish teen girls being used online without knowledge or consent

Images of hundreds of Irish teenage girls are being used on sordid Twitter accounts without their knowledge or consent.
Images of Irish teen girls being used online without knowledge or consent

Images of hundreds of Irish teenage girls are being used on sordid Twitter accounts without their knowledge or consent.

Girls - some as young as 13 - are pictured on highly objectifying Irish and British Twitter accounts.

The accounts have caused great distress to the teenager whose first names were used along with their pictures. One of these accounts was removed from Twitter late last week.

Last month, the Irish Examiner reported on disturbing Twitter accounts, featuring stolen photos of more than 60 teenage girls from Cork captioned with degrading and highly sexualised language.

Many of the girls whose images were posted without their consent to the most recent Twitter account are from the north Dublin area.

Another account, proclaiming to show British girls, also features some Irish teenagers.

One teenager told the Irish Examiner that she was just 13 in some of the photos stolen from her.

“Reading the comments made me feel sick,” she said.

“I just find it scary. They used pictures from when I was 13 which is my sister's age [that] probably made me most sick.”

The ‘Only Irish Girls' account, which has since been suspended, was opened in October 2011 and had amassed 3,576 followers.

Many of those commenting, often using very lewd language, had profile pictures of men in their 50s and 60s, some pictured with families.

“Want to be invited to her slumber party,” was one of the many comments made.

The second account, claiming to be British, encouraged its 44.6k followers to “Rate and retweet her.”

Legal experts say that legislation has not caught up with technology and this gap allows online abuse to often go unpunished.

“The horse has bolted in terms of saying ‘don’t put your image up online,’” Noeline Blackwell, of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said.

“The online world is with us. So it’s about trying to curtail the harm that it is doing in some ways with more legislation.

“There is the challenge that you don’t always know the extent of theft of people’s images really because the internet is so global.

“Where we can’t actually enforce legislation we must try to work to improve the culture."

Ms Balckwell called for legislation to criminalise the theft or misuse of intimate images and for comprehensive complaint systems so that misappropriated images could be removed from internet platforms quickly.

She also called for education and public awareness campaigns to prompt a change in culture to stamp out "the kind of casualness where people think it’s OK to abuse another person’s image."

Ms Blackell and multiple organisations under the leadership of the Children's Rights Alliance are currently lobbying the Government to amend draft online safety legislation to include a Digital Safety Commissioner whose office would hold media companies to account and enforce online safety regulations.

They also want to see an efficient and effective complaints procedure included in the legislation so that individuals can complain about any online infringements of their rights.

"The current draft of legislation is absolutely insufficient," Ms Balckwell said.

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