SYDNEY: Thousands of intrusive photographs taken of women in public places like beaches have been shared to two hashtags on
for years — highlighting more abusive behaviour that needs to be banned on the microblogging site after a ban on conservative journalist Milo Yiannopoulos for his “targeted abuse online”.
Yevgeniya Ivanyutenko, a
user from Canada, came across the hashtags with images predominately focusing on the women’s breasts and buttocks in early June.
She referred the hashtags to
‘s @Support account and asked her followers to do the same, the Guardian reported on Friday. However, not only did she not get any response, her attempts to formally report the accounts that had tweeted the hashtags were met with error messages.
According to a study by social media analytics company Max Kelsen, nearly 35,000 posts and retweets have been posted to the two hashtags in the past six years but there was an explosion of activity in April this year.
Users posting and retweeting on these hashtags were found to be almost exclusively male and the majority were aged 17 and under. The majority – nearly 57% – were in the US, with 14.3% from Britain and 11.7% from Mexico.
Ivanyutenko said “a whole underground community for trading these pics” is hiding in plain sight. Some of the accounts are restricted to images taken in specific neighbourhoods or public places, such as Walmart.
“I got a response from one of the guys posting before he blocked me… saying that what he’s doing is under ‘free speech’,” she added.
One account makes an active appeal to its more than 112,000 followers for “creepshots” that are “good enough to tweet or post” on its external website. Earlier this week,
permanently banned Yiannopoulos, the tech editor at conservative news site Breitbart who was dubbed as one of
‘s most offensive users.
The move came after Yiannopoulos led an online troll against Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones who vowed to leave
over her treatment, prompting a major outburst on social media.
A spokesperson for the microblogging site said that after Yiannopoulos ban, the company has been in the process of reviewing its “hateful-conduct policy” to ban more types of abusive behaviour and allow more types of reporting “with the goal of reducing the burden on the person being targeted”.