Thursday 22 February 2018

'Unless you never upload a photo to social media ever, you're not safe' - Irish teens speak of photo hacking horror

'People think that if you put a selfie online, you 'deserve' it... no-one is safe'

Cork teenager Katie Kirwin’s photos were hijacked and used
Cork teenager Katie Kirwin’s photos were hijacked and used
Clare Cullen

Clare Cullen

A number of the girls whose photographs were stolen and uploaded to an international porn site spoke to Cork Red FM's Neil Prenderville this morning.

Introduced only by their first names, the Cork girls spoke of their experience.

Cork mother Sarah spoke about finding out her young daughter's photos had been put on the site.

"She's absolutely distraught".

She told Prenderville that there "must be fifty pictures" of her young daughter on the site, some dating back to when she was fourteen. Others include her youngest daughter, who is six years younger. "I'm actually in some of them on holiday with the two girls... 2013, she would have been 14 then".

"I can't believe people could be that sick... to take pictures of a ten-year-old".

Discussing the comments left on the stolen pictures, she described them as "vile".

"What they wanted to do to her... things like 'I love coming home to this little one'... vile".

"It's proper abuse...child abuse".

She explained that her daughter's page was private and her Facebook use monitored, but that still hasn't prevented it. "It's obviously someone she knows that's getting at them".

Sarah defended the girls against negative comments, blaming them for posting pictures. "Putting pictures up is just their way of expressing themselves online. Why aren't these things being monitored? Surely there should be laws, that people can't use pictures of children?"

Prenderville said that the man suspected of being involved wrote that one of the girls "works at a bar I drink in... she thinks I'm her friend haha" on the site. "Shocked by it all... we're in shock".

Teen girls' horror as social media photos appear on porn site


Natasha told Red FM that a friend in Australia has had her pictures stolen and "photoshopped to where she's completely naked".

"The word rape was used... (in the comments). She's hysterical... traumatised over it. She's in work now in Melbourne, she doesn't know what to do".

Natasha said she "couldn't look" at the comments on her own pictures. "I don't want to see.. I don't want to know what was written".

She said that the incident has made her feel "worried" walking in Cork. "You don't know these guys... you don't know who has seen you on this site. It's putting our lives at risk".


Katie Kirwin, who spoke to Cork's Red FM yesterday, updated on her situation since heading to the Gardai to file a report.

"I went to Anglesea and was told 'there's no immediate problem'... that there's 'nothing they can do for me'".

"Because I'm fourteen, it's somehow not as bad? Which is outrageous, considering I'm legally still a child".

"They were rude, inconsiderate... basically told me to go away".

She explained that the "worst ones" were taken from her social media when she was fourteen years old.

"I've been cyberstalked for four years. They've followed my whole social media since I was fourteen... they stopped posting in August, just before I turned eighteen".

Some of Katie's photos were photoshopped to place men's "bits and bobs" near her face. She revealed that threats of a 'sexual and graphically violent nature' had been left in the comments underneath the pictures and that has made her feel unsafe in Cork.

"(My pictures) have over a million views... how many times have I walked down Patrick Street and seen somebody that's been thinking 'that's the girl from the website'?"

Katie slammed commenters online placing the blame on the girls.

"No-one is safe. Unless you never upload a picture to the internet, ever... you're not safe. Even then, someone can take a photo of you. You're never safe. So don't comfort yourself by saying it's our own fault".

"As a person who is not a paedophile, I don't understand why... If I put a seven year old in a bikini, would you say the seven year old was provocative?"

Katie pointed out that the stolen photos were "more innocent" photographs and this appeared to be part of the appeal. "I have a public page for some modelling shots... if they'd wanted 'provocative' pictures, they could have got them there".

"They chose images that were more innocent". "They don't want older ones", Prenderville added.

Replying to a texter who wrote that the incident should "knock some sense" into young girls, Katie said she would "like to tell him his attitude is appalling".

"He's uneducated as to what has actually happened. I did not have my profile public".

"People have taken photos from public pages like camogie teams, basketball teams, school website... it's just not appropriate to say we need sense. We don't need sense, pedophiles need to be sorted out".

"There's no set formula (to protect yourself). If that was the case, there wouldn't be as many of us suffering".

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