Saucy snapshots easily shared

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 05:00 22/06/2013

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Oh my God this needs to go, she pleaded. 

Compromising photos of people leaked onto the internet spread like wildfire, but is it just harmless fun or are real people getting hurt?

Some people believe that those who send nude pictures know the risks, but others say spreading of the photos equates to cyber bullying.

Several Canterbury students found themselves laid bare on the internet this week after photos of them sent on the latest social media phenomena, Snapchat, were leaked onto the web.

Snapchat is an iPhone and Android app that allows users to send photos to contacts and control how long receivers can see them.

The pictures last a maximum of 10 seconds before they disappear from the phone.

However, those receiving the photo are able to take a screenshot of the image and can then send the picture to whoever they choose.

Facebook pages of leaked Snapchat photos sprung up from Canterbury University, CPIT, Lincoln University and Otago University.

Most of the pictures show the students nude or engaging in sexual activity. Some students have been identified by being "tagged" in the pictures.

The administrator of the CPIT Leaked Snapchat page, Cameron Brewer, said he created the page as a "bit of fun".

"Facebook is a public enough place that anyone could see embarrassing pictures of others in the end . . . I'd hope everyone sees the funny side of it all, and most do."

People sent the photos to him by private message and he verified they were real by checking the names and searching the web.

Brewer believed if people sent explicit photos, they knew the risks and should expect to be leaked. "They know the risk that the picture can be ‘screen-shotted' and it's down to whether they trust the person they send it to. I've had no complaints so far, just laughs."

He said if people in the photos asked them to be removed he would take them down.

However, some of those pictured appeared highly distressed at the unintended exposure.

On the Lincoln University page, one woman begged the admin to remove a compromising picture of her, saying it was "out of context".

"Oh my God this needs to go," she pleaded.

The photo was online for several hours and received many comments before it was removed.

The sending of explicit picture messages is not a new phenomenon but some people felt more comfortable sending them via Snapchat because they thought they would be deleted.

One 22-year-old university student told The Press she often used snapchat to share photos with her friends. "It's great to communicate with overseas friends because it's instant."

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She said many people also used the app to share "racy" pictures because they thought they weren't permanent. "People send nude shots on there because it disappears after a few seconds. I've been sent quite a few nude shots."

She said it would be devastating to have her Snapchats leaked onto the web.

"If they leaked online then it would totally destroy my future career," she said. "But that's why I never do identifiable pictures just in case they are leaked. It serves girls right for making them identifiable. Everyone knows, don't send a head shot."

If someone took a screenshot of your photo it sent you a notification, she said. "So if your photo ends up online you know who has leaked it."

Netsafe has received many complaints over Snapchat, about people being sent "inappropriate or damaging" photos.

- The Press

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