Sri Lanka finds itself at the heart of a campaign targeted at a Facebook page that it sees as a violation of privacy and threat to the safety of minor girls.
According to a report in Lanka daily Ceylon Today, the Facebook page in question is called School Girls, and a complaint has already been made to the Criminal Investigation Department’s (CID) Cyber Crimes Division.
The newspaper report claims that the page mainly uploads images of females, most of whom are underage and in school uniform.
The report alleges that the images may have been ‘stolen’ off Facebook accounts of students without their knowledge or approval.
One girl, Dinushi (20), (name changed) had submitted a report to Facebook after she came to know of her picture being uploaded in the page on 5 March. “I was 16 years old when I took that picture and I noticed it on the page when one of my schoolmates brought it to my attention.”
The Sunday Times reported as follows-
As the number of Facebook (FB) users increases in Sri Lanka, so does the number of complaints of misuse with seven cases a day being reported to the Police.
The latest postings to send panic waves among teenage FB users and their parents and give rise to questions about privacy and the safety are a series of photographs of Sri Lankan schoolgirls in uniforms, with explicit comments in Sinhala and Tamil.
Shanika*(21) who is featured in the picture is angry that her privacy has been violated. “I was in uniform in that picture. But the picture was taken like five years ago. The original picture does not even belong to me, although I am tagged in it,” she said.
She added that cyber crime authorities here should contact FB and track down these individuals and take action against those who violate privacy on social media networks.
Trisha*(19) voiced concern that girls were being photographed while they travelled on buses and even school vans.
“How can girls be careful when people take pictures of them without their knowledge while travelling in public transport?” she asked.
Denushka*, also in her late teens complained that whenever she reported these pages to Facebook, the reply was that the page won’t be removed as it wasn’t deemed to be offensive.
“The problem is that most of the pictures are decent, but the comments are sexually explicit and are in Sinhala or Tamil. I think it’s important for Facebook to have a team of moderators in Sri Lanka, because only someone who can understand the language knows how offensive they are,” she said.
18 year old Himasha* said that it was disappointing that Sri Lankan authorities had not reacted to the complaints and now more pictures have been posted.
“I didn’t tell my parents because I’m afraid how they would react. Most of the girls have not told their parents or informed school authorities. We are helpless,” she said.
A blogger-web Alochana reported that a leading girls school has banned the face book for its students-
It is noteworthy that this ban takes place in a context in which a significant number of schools in Sri Lanka are opening up to the benefits and new possibilities of the world wide web, including social networking sites and other web2.0 tools such as blogging. Royal College, being the most outstanding exponent of this trend, recently announced a blogging competition as a part of their annual literary festival; and their constructive use of Facebook in publicizing and coordinating this event is widely admired.
However, Sirimavo Bandaranaike Vidyalaya has different plans.
Ironically enough, the most recent “completed project” of the school is “Establishing a security camera system (CCTV)” 😀
I wonder how does the principal plan to monitor the activities of her students on Facebook from now on…
In addition to Sirimavo Bandaranaike Vidyalaya, Facebook has been blocked or banned in several places around the globe including Syria and Iran 😀