By Tsar Umang
Private photos being leaked online have many horrors. The exposure to strangers is only the beginning. Criticism and judgement follows next. Then there are exploitation and harassment.
This was the case for the 19-year-old girl called “Neil.” She had private, sensitive images that were downloaded from her Facebook account without her consent and were used to blackmail her.
The incident started in a Quezon City computer shop where Neil had accidently left her Facebook account open. The exposed account was discovered and explored by the next individual who rented the same computer Neil used. This person found sensitive images of Neil, which she had sent to herself. The person hacking her account downloaded the photos and shared them to a community of Dota players. After several days, this person contacted Neil, demanding from her to have sex with him, or else he will release all of her private photos to the public.
Neil had blocked the blackmailer from contacting her, based on screenshots about conversations between the two of them. The screenshots also revealed that a second individual, possibly a fake account, contacted Neil and threatened her and her family.
The blackmail escalated to grave threats, extending from Neil to her siblings. Worried over the increasing danger, Neil told her mother about the situation, and then to a friend from Nueva Ecija, who consulted cybersecurity experts from Pangasinan.
The incident reached the PNP Cybercrime Division and in coordination with Neil, lured the blackmailer into an apartelle at Cubao, where PNP operatives were able to catch and arrest the suspect last February 1 this year.
However, the horror for Neil did not end there. Another person, believed to be a member of the same Dota community, messaged Neil’s mother.
The operation will continue until everyone involved in the blackmailing incident is put to jail.
The incident had affected Neil’s life since first receiving the threats. She was afraid to leave the house and was not able to attend her OJT, and constantly worried about her siblings and parents.
Netizens’ reactions to the incident are negative, shaming Neil, calling her a prostitute and an attention-seeker, forgetting the incident actually happened because the blackmailer did not respect someone’s privacy.
To save us from this horror, we have to ensure to keep things private and responsible to our online accounts, safeguarding them at all times. For those who find opened Facebook accounts, especially in computer shops, please do respect the owner’s privacy and log it out.