It starts with a status on Facebook. A girl on my timeline shares a friend’s post: she has found an online catalogue of Australian girls, from Mackay to Melbourne on a forum sharing their naked photos, with faces and names, sorted into areas and schools.
The photos are meticulously organized and planned in neat folders. I am scared. Not for myself – but for every girl I know.
These photos exist on an anonymous server: a thread, which makes it more threatening. If it were on Facebook, like the ‘Hotties of Melbourne’ debacle earlier this year or Instagram, which housed Brighton Grammar’s latest indiscretion, it would be easier to contact the website, and get the images taken down – and the publicity and furore would rock Melbourne, for the umpteenth time in 2016.
However, these photos are intangible: the veil of anonymity hides the boys taking part and the website allowing these actions to occur.
Girls on my timeline are panicked – “How do I see if I’m on there?” “How do I know if there are photos of me?” “How do you find yourself on here?”
I click on the link and feel cold horror. There are sections for schools, for workplaces, for ages and for postcodes.
There are gleeful boys requesting photos of girls, using last names and Snapchat handles and describing the obtaining of a nude photo as a “win.”
As if it is a victory, to display a private photo of a woman who trusted you, with unknown, anonymous people on the Internet.
I see photos of girls I knew in high school, of girls who I met at work and in Grade One and through netball and university. I feel sick as I see the comments below photos of my friend’s sisters and people I follow on Instagram.