A number of social media sites inspired by the movie “The Purge” were started up in Beaver County tonight, posting explicit images of local high school students in another troubling example of the revenge porn phenomena.
Revenge porn is the term used to describe the dissemination of nude or sexual images shared without permission of the person pictured.
The sites coincided with last week’s release of “The Purge: Anarchy,” a sequel to last year’s hit movie “The Purge.” The movies’ premise is that for one night each year all crime is legal.
The pages were established on the popular mobile photo sharing app Instagram. Some of the sites, such as one for Blackhawk, posted clothed photos of high school students with taunting messages like “Who is this faggot?” But others, including one for Hopewell, featured explicit imagery of teenage girls purportedly from the area. Several of the images showed topless girls with their heads cropped out of the photographs, providing hints to their identities like “sophomore,” encouraging followers to guess at who they were. Other images were full bodied nudes that included faces.
Most of the pages asked their followers to forward along additional images of girls from the area for them to post.
In total the sites racked up hundreds of followers, many of whom appeared to be other local high school students. The sites were reported to Instagram by multiple individuals and the service appears to have removed most of them as of the time of this report, although other similar pages appear to be starting up on the app in their place.
The Beaver Countian first learned about the sites after receiving a tip that a new version of the now infamous “Beaver County Hoez” was taunting local teenage girls. But some of the pages proved to be far more than just taunts — this publication reported the imagery as being suspected child pornography as soon as it was discovered.
In February 2011, a Facebook page dubbed “Beaver County Hoez” published images of mostly underage high school girls from Beaver County and invited people to post sexually explicit comments about them. That page had nearly 3,000 fans before being deleted. In February of this year, a Twitter account called “BeavCoBlast” invited people to send them nude photographs of their ex-girlfriends which were then sent out anonymously to followers on Twitter.
Reports of similar “Purge” sites are popping up in other places around the country — what is proving to be a disturbing online trend of viral victimization.
Images of child pornography are not protected by the First Amendment and are illegal contraband under federal laws in the United States. A first time offender convicted of distributing child pornography faces a statutory minimum of 5 years to a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.
Pennsylvania passed legislation on July 9th of this year outlawing so called “revenge porn” regardless of the age of the person depicted, becoming one of 13 states in the nation to adopt a “non-consensual porn” law.