Facebook shuts down student photo page

A Gender Studies lecturer at the University of Otago has applauded Facebook for removing a page displaying intimate photos of Dunedin students.

This comes amid concern over ''babe of the day'' Facebook pages, especially after the phenomenon spread to Dunedin high school pupils.

The page displaying intimate images of Otago University students, called ''Otago Uni Leaked Snapchats'', took advantage of a smartphone app called Snapchat, which allows people to send images and video to other users and set a time limit of up to 10 seconds for how long they can be viewed.

However, some users have found ways to get around the time limit by taking screen-shots of the images.

Some of the photos - including some containing nudity - have ended up online, including on numerous Facebook pages centred around images of students at New Zealand universities.

Many of these pages, including the Otago University one - which had more than 3500 ''likes'' before it was taken down - have since been removed by Facebook.

Late yesterday, photos on the Dunedin high school ''babe of the day'' page were also removed. One of the page creators posted that the page would be taken down, following publicity in the Otago Daily Times.

''We are going to have to delete the page as all the girls were asking for there [sic] photos to be taken down,'' the posting read. ''We have had the ODT and potentially the police on our case. We didn't mean to harm anyone and to be honest don't see much wrong doing in putting up these photos. We only made this page for a laugh.''

Otago University gender studies lecturer Dr Lesley Procter was pleased Facebook had taken down the Snapchat page, but added its existence raised wider issues about both sexism and privacy online.

Putting up images people did not intend to end up in the public domain was a ''gross invasion of privacy'' and had the ability to cause a lot of distress, Dr Procter said.

''It moves very easily into cyber-bullying; there is a very fine line between putting up a photo of someone as a prank and actually bullying,'' she said.

While she viewed the Snapchat page as a ''a bit more malicious'', the ''babe of the day'' sites also raised concerns when the images were posted without consent. Both also encouraged the ''sexual objectification of women''. The pages also showed the need to be careful when posting images online, especially if they were of an intimate nature.

The Snapchat page's creator, a second-year commerce student at Otago University who wished to remain anonymous, said it was ''just for laughs'' and a ''copy cat'' of similar sites.

Asked about the response to the page, the person said ''not many bad responses, few people unhappy about a picture posted of them but I delete the photo straight away and the people are happy''.

When asked about the page being removed, a spokeswoman for Facebook said, ''Nothing is more important to Facebook than the safety of the people that use our site.''


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