Warning as 88% of 'sexted' online photos of youngsters are stolen and reused

When young people upload 'sexy' images online to share with friends, 88% are stolen and reused on 'parasite' websites. (Image: Fotolia)

When young people upload 'sexy' images online to share with friends, 88% are stolen and reused on 'parasite' websites.

Children whose 'sexted' images are stolen in this way may never be able to get them back - and victims describe being 'haunted' by images that are shared without their consent.

A study by Childnet and the Internet Watch Foundation analysed 12,224 images uploaded to websites and social networks - and found that 10,774 of these had been 'stolen' and reused on other websites.

One victim, whose image had been 'shared' by parasite websites, said, '“I came to regret posting photographs of myself naively on the internet and tried to forget about it, but strangers recognized me from the photographs and made lewd remarks at school.

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"I endured so much bullying because of this photograph and the others...I was eventually admitted for severe depression and was treated for a suicide attempt.”

The news came in the wake of the high-profile case of Amanda Todd, who committed suicide after a cyber-bully used an explicit image of her to threaten and torment her.

The 'parasite' websites which share these images do so without consent.

As a result, it can be impossible to 'delete' an image after it has been uploaded.

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Susie Hargreaves, CEO of the Internet Watch Foundation, said: “This research gives an unsettling indication of the number of images and videos on the internet featuring young people performing sexually explicit acts or posing.

“It also highlights the problem of control of these images - once an image has been copied onto a parasite website, it will no longer suffice to simply remove the image from the online account.

“We need young people to realise that once an image or a video has gone online, they may never be able to remove it entirely.”


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