Women being ‘babe-rated’

A FACEBOOK page is publishing provocative photos of women and underage girls from Albury-Wodonga without their permission, rating them on their looks.

The page was created on January 2 and has since reached more than 6000 people.

In the past week several spin-offs have also emerged.

One spin-off page urging people to “name and shame” the “biggest sluts” in Albury-Wodonga has already received more than 2000 likes and dozens of comments from Facebook users condemning those who set it up.

Meanwhile, young women featured on the original “babes” page say they feel “exploited” and “freaked out” after having their photos put on the public site without their permission.

One teenager said since her image was published she had received about 90 friend requests from strangers.

WOMEN SPEAK OUT: 'We don't know how we got on this site'

Melbourne cyber-safety expert Susan McLean has warned the page’s creators they risk creating a “paedophiles paradise” and breaking the law if comments turn threatening or derogatory.

“This is sexualised rubbish and as a society we shouldn’t stand up and say ‘Oh my gosh she is hot, where can I find her?’,” Ms McLean said.

“Think if this was my sister or mother, would I like this?”

The Border Mail has contacted the page’s administrators, who have refused to reveal their identity.

However, they did provide a written statement saying they had more than 500 photos sent to them and they’d even been contacted by businesses asking to advertise on the page.

Most of the time they said the photos were provided by friends, family or boyfriends of the women, and added they would remove photos if they received a complaint.

They also said they had cases of people who sent in their own photo then pretended to know nothing about it when it was posted.

“We then get other people posting messages on the page wall, abusing us saying things like ‘How dare you post that photo, you didn’t ask for permission?’.

“They have no idea that the person in the photo complaining about it is the one who actually sent it in.”

This week the administrators wrote a message asking those contributing photos “to make sure the people are going to be OK with it” and have indicated they would not post images of those under 18.

However, at least one of those pictured on the site is clearly identified as underage and The Border Mail has spoken to three women who say they were not consulted before their photo was posted.

Ms McLean, a former Victorian police officer, said those who posted pictures taken from private Facebook pages without the owner’s permission weren’t doing anything illegal.

She said Facebook wouldn’t take any action unless the photos were of people under 13 or sexually explicit.

However, she said if comments became harassing, threatening, offensive or derogatory the authors could find themselves facing criminal charges and so too the person who created the page.

Youth resource officer with Wodonga Police Leading Sen-Constable Kevin Mack said police hadn’t received any official complaints about the page or its four spin-offs.

But he said they were monitoring all the sites for any illegal activity and would encourage anyone with concerns to contact police.

“We’re vigilant about these things because we know the impact it can have on people’s psychological well-being,” Sen-Constable Mack said.

Last year two Bendigo men who created a Facebook page that rated the sexual performance of local teens were charged and convicted of using a carriage service to offend and publishing offensive material on an information network.

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