By Jade Wong,
As I type this, I feel absolutely disgusted. And revolted. And appalled. And… Well, you get the idea. You must be thinking, “What in the world is this idiot ranting about?” So to help clear things up, I’ll jump straight to the point. WHAT THE BLAZERS ARE PICTURES OF NOBELIAN GIRLS DOING IN AN ALIEN TUMBLR ACCOUNT?!
Okay, Jade. Calm down. But this is a breach of human privacy and a totally uncalled for vexation! How can one remain placid when the faces of your friends have been plastered all over the net for every Tom, Dick and Harry to view? It ain’t called the World Wide Web for nothing, you know?
Just very recently, a Tumblr page, aptly named Instagram Asian Girls was discovered by our Nobel students. Reportedly, this blog contained photograph after photograph of Malaysian and Singaporean girl “selfies” which were apparently sourced from Instagram. The page, which has reportedly been operating for months, alleged that, “All images were taken from public Instagram accounts and are assumed to be in the public domain and are of fair use via copyright law and standards.” Therefore, they did not feel the need to receive any consent prior to the posting.
The permission, unfortunately, that they failed to seek, was that of our fellow Nobel students. Before this incident, Ngei San Wen was “never really bothered” whether or not her profile was privatized. However, she asserted that, “I feel regretful. I could have taken a bit more precaution and be less careless about posting pictures of my friends and I on a public social networking site. My mistake is not only affecting myself but my friends as well.”
When asked about her opinion on her face being tainted on a blog which claimed to include “Graphic Pornography, Artistic Nude (inclusive of Under 18 models) but no Child Pornography” photographs, Sarah Ng expressed that she was “very disgusted because it’s a page full of young girls!” She says, “The thought of being looked at. It’s very scary and I feel insecure too.” Ng’s classmate, Naomi Seah voiced that she felt “violated as I used a watermark on my pictures”. This bespectacled photography enthusiast moves on to elaborate that this was quite a large copyright infringement on her part as there were distinct brandings of ownership on the pictures.
Another victim of this unwarranted chagrin, Irene* confided that in the beginning, she felt quite irritated by this immature act. “Honestly, when I first saw it I was rather furious. Then minutes later, I realize that I can’t really blame whoever that’s behind it because I did put my Instagram profile on public.”
Therefore, to all female users of the social networking sites, I strongly urge you, change your Instagram account setting to ‘Private’ before it’s too late! These girls will be the first to testify it to you. Ng said that although she privatized her account after this event, there isn’t any point crying over spilt milk. “I made it private once I found out. But honestly there’s not much hope any more because even after I privatized it, my photo was still posted. So yeah.”
Ngei stated that, “as much as the internet can be a good place to express and share our everyday lives, it can be scary, abusive and unnecessary.” I would have to agree with her on that one. I mean, imagine an old raisin stalking you down! Nina* was rather shaken when she was first notified about it, but fortunately for this lass, her peers were very supportive and helped her get past this hitch. “I guess that made me feel better. It is, I suppose, a lesson learnt for all girls that the internet isn’t a safe place.”
By now, I’m quite certain that you must be aching to find out who’s responsible for the page. What were his/her motivations for starting up such a blog? Unfortunately, I do not have the answer. The girls who were interviewed, on the other hand, had their own opinions and views on this. “I really have no idea and don’t want to assume anything, but looking at the feed, there are quite a lot Nobelians, so there is a possibility that someone I know is responsible for this.” Ngei said.
“I think the person meant it as a joke and was just fooling around because he or she had nothing better to do.” commented Seah. She went on to stress that, “I really hope that this person will think about what he or she has done.” Irene* contributed her two cents that she thought they were probably just immature boys with too much time on their hands
When I inquired about whether they had alerted their parents about this, I wasn’t quite surprised, to find that all but one of them had not. Some felt that they were mature enough to handle such obstacles on their own while others feared for the existence of their social networking sites. Fortunately, Sarah and Irene* mentioned that a handful of Year 10 guys were working together with them to try and deactivate the blog.
San Wen felt very touched by the encouragement she received and wanted to acknowledge them. “I would like to say thank you, to the Year 10 boys who were searching for ways to report the page and simply supporting us and to the others for the care you gave.”
Nonetheless, every cloud has a silver lining so I guess all horror stories have their own happy ending too. Subsequent to this unwelcome event, all of those affected changed their profile status to confidential. Though it mightn’t have prevented this incident, it could prevent any more from happening in the near future and I sincerely hope that this would serve as a wake-up call and a lesson to be learnt for all of us.
I do know what it’s like to want to have a lot of followers – being an avid social networker myself – so I understand the necessity of having a public page for that goal to be achieved. But I want you to think about this, is having 500 followers more important than your safety? Your privacy? Your reputation?
Updated: As of 5pm on Sunday, attempts to access the website at http://www.ig-asiangirls.tumblr.com have failed as the website has been removed, possible due to the reports lodged by the girls to Tumblr.