If you haven’t had a sit down talk with your teens and pre-teens and tweens about Facebook privacy settings, here’s all the more reason to. Angie Varona, now 17 years old, was just 14 when she took some sexy shots for her then boyfriend. Now before you say to yourself “I know how this is going to end up,” it’s worth pointing out the photos she snapped were pretty tame by internet standards: no nudity. We’re talking cleavage and some bikini snaps.
Although sexual in nature, the photos could be akin to anything girls would carelessly take of one another at sleepovers or perform on dares. No raunch.
According to Gawker, the photos were dropped into a Photobucket account which was then hacked. The photos went everywhere after that, popping up on sites like Reddit with the teenager’s real name attached. Angie and her father informed the FBI but because the teenager wasn’t nude in any of the shots, they didn’t technically count as child pornography. Gawker reports that at present, there are 356,000 Google results for “Angie Varona.” That are even quite a few Facebook fan pages dedicated to her with new pictures pulled directly from her Facebook account.
Varona told The Status, “They’re getting them through my Facebooks. I can’t even have my real name. I’ve had like six Facebooks now.”
The emotional damage to the teenager has been immense as she says that she’s now home schooled and has thoughts of suicide. She continually sees comments from her “fans” saying that they would rape her if they got the opportunity and asking when her porn career will take off.
Angie uses the word “embarrassing” to describe what’s happened to her. I’m going to go a step further and add mortifying, psychologically damaging, and extremely dangerous to her mental health. Obviously the power of the internet is presenting many new ways in which our kids can be harassed and bullied, as 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer ended his life after endless cyberbullying from his peers.
In addition to making our queer kids feel worthless, the web is now making sex symbols out of ninth graders.