Social Media in the school yard: unauthorised access, transfer & publication of explicit pictures of a minor online

posted Mar 12, 2011, 4:22 AM by Jess Maher   [ updated Mar 13, 2011, 8:23 AM ]
We have managed the successful removal of explicit pictures of a minor posted on which had been brought to our attention earlier this week by the individual depicted in photos. Now we continue to explore & review the more specific particulars of this case in our attempts to assist this teenager & family. The outline & description of the context and issue as it was initially understood & discussed can be gained from the earlier post, Explicit & Incriminating Content you post may make its short way online publicly.. (Jess Maher, 2011).

When these kids came for our help and assistance I could both empathize and sympathize for not only for these guys I was speaking to, but really, more broadly, for any teenager in today's society. Having to survive the age old trials & tribulations of high school years which we can all remember from our own lives, but then on top of that to add the the ongoing technological developments that continue to bring the virtual realm almost intrusively into our day to day lives, not to mention the potential for lifelong repercussions from something casually share between hormonal adolescents due to the very nature of the medium. While the many notes I can remember us all passing around the classroom on ripped up bits of paper have largely long since been discarded and forgotten, so much of these teenagers lives, relationships & interactions today could very realistically be dugg right on out again many many years later and come back to bite them. 

That clique school room note passing classic, the one with that moment of dread which came along with being the one snapped out passing it and having to walk up the front to hand it over to the teacher whom would read it out loud to the rest of the class... well that just takes on a whole new form now I guess... While on so many levels its all the same really from any older individuals memories of school & all the stories and tales of ones "formative years", on the other hand it is realistically a whole new ball game... Some insight on this particular topic and case from the perspective of these kids can be further found online... This was one of our favorites...

After being informed of this ourselves, we initially and immediately sent an email to support requesting the immediate removal of the content in question. Using the Child Alert Website, supported & suggested by the Department of Internal Affairs, the URL was lodged with 

Since the removal of these images from we now continue to explore avenues to ensure the individual responsible will be held accountable and attempts can be made to try and ensure these photos will not again resurface. As our societies, economies & laws continue to adapt to these changes, the rate at which the traditional systems are managing to evolve & fit issue resolutions to these ongoing changes will never be fast enough to keep up with the continuing developments. In this particular case, the images were removed by in somewhat commendable fashion on their behalf, given their standardized processes and the limited interest or concern for liability these websites & laws governing them seem to have come to agree is expected of them legally at least. Given that in the Terms of Service, has 72hrs to respond to any reports or complaints of this nature, it is impressive that within that timeframe in this case the photos where not only posted, discovered and reported but also then removed from this service. 

This kind of issue in the "classroom" has seen significant attention already... There are numerous sources of information on such issues historically and various approaches & processes adopted in each, often with the best of intentions, and often with very different levels of effectiveness & varying degrees of sucess. 

The Government and largely legal responsibility for this kind of thing appears to be Net

As legal amendments continue to be made, the NZ Government widely tends to encourage & welcome submissions & insight from members of the community... InternetNZ, whom for these purposes operate in a collective with the a large number of the big ISPs in New Zealand making them an important and influential player in these changes ( 

Internationally, there are a number of organisations & groups who explore and understand these uncharted legal disputes such as the EFF, who have collaborated to create an incredibly useful resource in such cases, Chilling Effects.  Alongside the value of this site enabling you to use the automated system they have developed to create a report, but the links and insight found here has much further broader provide insights.$file/DCESF-PublicInformationPack.pdf 

From the perspective of the education departments and more broadly the school system, there is obviously some legal obligation on behalf of the school to ensure the saftey and well being of thier students and also ensure they are acting in acordance of the parents wishes.

Principals being charge with offence when trying to solve such contentious issues appears to be the line for some in this arena..

Recommended Reading on this topic would include:

Sexting: Youth Practices and Legal Implications

When considering the perspective of the parents of this individual, the following links might provide some support & understanding for anyone responsible for ensuring the well being of a minor (namely, parents & caregivers...