Porn Site Caught Using Teens' Facebook Photos

Josh WolfordSocial Media

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Girls at a Boston area Vocational High School are a little more than upset after it was discovered that a porn site had been using their Facebook photos without their knowledge or consent.

CBS Boston reports that photos from the accounts of 17 different Bay Path Regional school were lifted and displayed on a porn site. Local officials say that they believe the specific porn site is based in another country, and that it could be the same site that they had shut down before. Federal investigators are saying that if so, they will try to shut it down again.

The photos featured the girls (some as young as 14) fully clothed, and it is unclear exactly how the porn site was using them. But officials say that some of their personal information was also posted on the site alongside their photos. They also said that the site in question was found to have actual child pornography.

"The fact that someone could do that, I don’t understand why someone would do that to me,” says McKenna Daniels, one of the girls who had her photos posted on the site.

As tough as this is for the girls, the lack of jurisdiction means that there might not be much that any prosecutor can do.

It's also a question as to the exact illegality of the porn site's actions. If they were promoting actual child pornography, that of course is illegal. But lifting images from Facebook isn't a crime in and of itself. Facebook's Terms of Service clearly outline the life cycle of any photograph you post on the site (bold added for emphasis):

For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).

Basically, once you put it out there publicly on a social media site, it becomes just that - public.

This story is reminiscent of one we told you about last year. A woman in the UK discovered that her Facebook photos were being used on a specialty porn site - for amputee fetishes. In her case, her exposure led to lewd Facebook correspondences and other unwanted internet advances.

Of course, in the high school girls' case, other laws take over if the images were being altered to make them appear nude or something like that. But the moral of this story is that posting a photo on the internet (publicly) is like mailing a copy of that photo to everyone in the world. You can edit your settings to disallow the downloading of your photos, but anyone can just take a screenshot of your images. The only real way to prevent something like this from happening to you is to ramp up your privacy controls.

[Note: The girl in image is not one of the girls involved in the story]
Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf