Crime Social Networks Technology

How EXACTLY did Malaysian kids’ pictures get on a porn site!?

Note: If you’re wondering about the feature image above, we figure it was the best way to convey an eye-catching image (so ugaiz will read) without involving pictures of the children involved (so usgaiz can go home with a clear conscience). Harap maklum 🙂

A few days ago, popular comedian Harith Iskander made the following post on Facebook after finding images of his son on a “local” porn site:

10410649_10153519872829672_8760988137346654294_n (1)

Image from Harith Iskander’s Facebook Page. Click to link (and follow him!)

“Google Alert brought to my attention the fact that pictures of my son (and of me cradling my son) as well as numerous pictures of other children appear in a local pornographic site alongside graphic porn images. I say “local”, cause the text is in Bahasa Malaysia. It’s both disgusting and incredibly disturbing and needless to say I am in the process of contacting MCMC to find out what action can be taken. I am NOT naming the site here. If anyone has any experience in cases of this nature please let me know what’s the best way to handle this.” – Photo caption

Apparently, the site also contained images of other celebrities’ children as well as male enhancement ads in BM. However, you won’t be able to visit the site yourself, since Harith has declined to name the site and, following advice from commenters, lodged a report with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). With the MCMC’s help, the pictures have since been taken down from the site. 

HARITH ISKANDER   Update  the pictures of my son  and other...

Screencapped from Harith Iskander’s Facebook Page.

So how did these pictures end up on a porn site? Is this a porn site for pedophiles? “OMGBBQ What if MY CHILDRENS PICTURES OSO THERE??!”

These were the questions we were asking ourselves too (except about the children’s pictures cause we ain’t got none, son), so we decided to get some outside help. We spoke to V.Kugantharan (aka Kugan), the founder of Yourwebsafety.com – an internet advocacy group that focuses on social media and online safety to get the answers to these questions, and more!

Do bear in mind that while we figured this is a good PSA following Harith’s experience, it’s meant to be generally applicable and not specifically focused on children, so the title was #clickbait (sorry). So let’s start with how those pictures ended up on questionable websites:

 

If your picture’s on the internet, it might get ‘scraped’

facebook-privacy-1024x636

Image from Giga Island

Most of us share our pictures pretty indiscriminately, be in on Facebook, Instagram, blogs, or any of the social media sites out there. However, this means that (depending on your privacy settings), anyone can access and use these photos for nefarious purposes.

“They could have easily saved it from blogs, websites or even public posts on social networks. There’s no telling for sure but as long as you are posting photos in the public domain, it is bound to be tracked by bots, other sites and can virtually end up anywhere.” – Kugan, in email interview with CILISOS.

hot singles

Not a CILISOS ad.

The “bots” that Kugan mentions refer to web-scrapers which is a type of software that visits websites and extracts whatever content they’ve been specified to look out for. Aside from pictures, it can also look for names, contact information, or anything that you may have either willingly or unwittingly put online. Do note though, that pictures that you have backed up on the cloud, like Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Photos ARE PRIVATE and WILL NOT show up online unless your account gets hacked, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

Facebook is also commonly blamed for being the main source for illegally obtained private photos, but when we asked Kugan, he said:

You can’t specifically blame any site for it. If you post something publicly, anyone can save it and use it.” -Kugan, in email interview with CILISOS.

We’ll go into more details on privacy in a bit, but the point here is that as long as it’s available on some public site there’s always a chance you might find yourself advertising for hot, local singles in your area. Awright now, let’s start with the “why,” as in…

 

Why do these sites want your pictures so bad?

identity-theft3

Image from IdentityTheftProtection

There are three common reasons for this.

The first is clickbait/phishing sites. This is the type of site that Harith found his child’s picture on, in which the owner uses keywords in order to entice people who’re searching for a particular name on Google to click on the site. This sort of site exploits users to increase its own ranking within the search results (it gets ranked higher), bombard the user with ads (for money), and/or installs malware (kinda virus sorta) on your device (GGByebye).

The second uses the images for target-specific ads, usually by ethnicity. Here’s an explanation given by tech-recipes.com:

“Some ethnic-related porn sites will steal profile pictures and names to advertise their web sites. For example, a Latino porn site might display a profile picture of an obviously Hispanic lady named Bonita. The advertisement would suggest that Bonita had erotic pictures inside when actually the young lady’s name and picture were stolen off her employer’s web site and are being used without her permission.” – Quoted from tech-recipes.com

The third is extortion. Here’s a horror story by an American mother who found her Facebook profile pictures on a porn site along with her personal details and link to her Facebook page. After being bombarded by messages from strange men, she was asked to pay $400 for it to be taken down.

As with malicious diseases, the phrase “prevention is better than cure” also applies to malicious use of your pictures online. What this means is…

 

If this worries you, check your PRIVACY SETTINGS

Facebook privacy

This is not going to be an easy one. Privacy settings vary across platforms so there’s no one-step solution to this – you’ll have to adjust the settings for each individual account. Facebook, for example, has a pretty complicated list of privacy settings which changes so often that if Facebook and Privacy had a relationship status, it’d be “It’s Complicated” (We stole this joke from the reference link). In case you need help finding Facebook’s privacy setting tab, it’s here along with a blue dinosaur to guide you through the process:

Screenshot 2015-06-28 17.09.48 copy

Where the red circle is on the upper right.

The general rule of thumb is to not share what you don’t want people to see. You might say “Well, duh, everyone knows that!” but consider this: You can’t control what other people post. So even if you go to great lengths to maximize your privacy settings on Facebook, Instagram, etc.; all you need is that one friend with the public account to snap a picture of you and upload it. Well, at least that’s the exaggerated version la.

“In the case of a celebrity, they may have not much choice as their photos are all over the net but for the average person, they’d want to think twice about what they make publicly available online.” – Kugan, in email interview with CILISOS.

While you’d still want to keep an eye on those privacy settings, the odds of your picture being misused are much lower than those of celebrities simply because they have more public exposure and recognition. So don’t go into panic mode just yet… you’re probably not famous enough to be a target 🙂

backhanded compliment

This of course leads to the next question:

 

“How do I know if my picture’s being misused?”

Well, in the words of Harry Potter’s Alastor Moody:

constant vigilance

Image from MuggleNet.

While there are reputation protection services that keep an eye out for your name or photos being misused on the net, it comes with a cost and the effectiveness is questionable.

Instead, here are three ZERO COST ways outlined by Kugan and the two sites we referenced above:

  • Do a Google search on your name and have a look at both the site and image results
  • Make use of Google images and upload a picture to see where else it appears. Do note that this may be a lengthy process depending on how many pictures you have.
  • Set up a Google Alert in your name. Kugan suggests using your full name since generic names like “John” will trigger anything from John Newman to British toilets. This is how Harith Iskander was alerted to the pictures, BTW.

And now comes the even bigger question:

 

“OMG MY PICTURES ARE ON A PORN SITE!!! What can I do???”  😯 👿  😡

Star-Trek freak out

Image from Mashable.

If you’re unlucky enough to find your face on a site of ill repute, the first thing you should do is to lodge a report with the police as well as the MCMC.

If images of your children are involved, you can also lodge a report with child protection websites. YourWebSafety has a much more comprehensive list of actions you can take on their site, which you can check out here.

However, please be aware that there’s a chance these pictures won’t disappear overnight even with the reports made. Depending on what they’re used for, the images may be spread across multiple sites which may be hosted in different countries – making it very hard (if not downright impossible) for the authorities to take action. Depending on the course of the investigation, the authorities will try to convince the sites to remove the images or, as a last resort, block access the site (but only within Malaysia la).

 

The internet is like the Wild, Wild West.

smaller

Image from efa.org.au

Many have compared the internet to the Wild West, where freedom and opportunities co-existed with lawlessness and fear. There are so many grey areas that we can’t expect the authorities to step in and “solve” the problem as we would, say, a home robbery. It’s really up to each individual to take the necessary precautions to control how much of their lives appear online. Some people have no problems with seeing their photos appearing in a Google search, while others freak out at the fact.

However, we feel that it all comes down to awareness: If you’re aware of the risks, you can then decide how to best manage your presence online.

Generally speaking… if you don’t want something to end up somewhere (e.g. a nudie picture of yourself with a barn animal), don’t put it online (and yes, that includes WhatsApp or anything that can be digitally screencapped)..

Editor: This writer, for instance, might be rather happy if he found his name on a porn site. His readers sometimes tho… not so much. Sorry once again, Wallase 🙁

 

 

NAH, BACA:
4 things Malaysia can learn from the Sydney siege

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Here at CILISOS, we believe that the only way to consume information is with a serious dose of flavour. Our aim is to make mundane things like news and current events entertaining, and informative, hopefully in equal measure. Read More

The Serious Legal Stuff

GOT A QUESTION FOR US?

Cilisos Media Sdn. Bhd. Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

To Top
Send this to a friend