Young Montreal women ‘devastated’ after peek inside secret group trading illicit nude photos; police investigating – About Your Online Magazine


MONTREAL –
Thousands of Montreal men exchanged nude photos and videos of local young women and girls in a secret chat group – a situation that the police now say they are investigating, although a young woman said that last week’s reports were ignored.

“I filled out the paper, but when I saw that the policeman was not cooperating, I tore it up and left,” said the 20-year-old, who last week went to two police stations with her friends before giving up.

But many local women are reeling after learning about the group and then secretly joining it, she said, and not just with the idea that their pictures could continue to circulate.

“Many girls are simply devastated, you know? Disturbed, betrayed,” said the young woman, who did not want to be identified by name to preserve her privacy.

screenshot of group chat

A screenshot of a private exchange in which a young woman confronted a man who “requested” photos of her naked. He said he did it because she ignored his requests. (Photo sent)

She said more than 5,000 explicit photos and videos were posted, including many of minors – and many of the girls whose photos were posted personally know the boys in the group through school or their social circles, she said.

“I know some of the girls are saying, ‘Look, when classes start, or when COVID is no longer something, we will be close to all these guys again,” she said.

Even though the police are investigating, “Aren’t they going to arrest 3,000 guys?” she added.

Last week, the group had about 3,700 members, said the 20-year-old, one of many who secretly joined him, using pseudonyms.

It was a group that could only join by invitation, sending a link to a new member, and was hosted on the Telegram encrypted messaging application. The app is similar to Signal, much like the popular WhatsApp platform, but with arguably stronger privacy protections for users.

The 20-year-old who spoke to CTV News said she did not know how the first girl got the link and joined the group. But as soon as she entered, she started inviting other girls to come together discreetly and see what was being shared.

They realized that the boys in the group were not just sharing photos and videos they had, but soliciting certain girls by name – girls they had met before or those whose social media profiles they had seen.

“Some of the girls, these guys, actually followed on Instagram, so I don’t know, maybe they just want to see them naked,” she said.

For some, a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend may have old photos of nudes and the request would reach him, said the young woman.

“My friend saw a video she made with her boyfriend six years ago in the group,” she said.

‘WHY WOULD YOU PUBLISH THIS?’

Seeing the requests gave the girls who were quietly watching the group a chance to alert these other girls – otherwise unfamiliar to them – that their privacy was being violated. They would then find their social media accounts and let them know.

Most of the victims were just “normal girls” like that, said the young woman. About 10 others were well-known influencers or social media models.

Some others, including her, have accounts with OnlyFans, a platform that allows users to take their own naked or semi-naked content and place it behind paid access, charging their “fans” a price for access, with high control about your own settings.

For the 20-year-old girl, it was some of her OnlyFans photos that were shared – but she has always had her account blocked for all users in Canada. The man who requested her nudes was someone who repeatedly pressured her to send them to him, and whom she repeatedly ignored, she said.

When she confronted him, he said he did it because she was ignoring him. Annoyed, she posted a warning about him, and he responded with a torrent of insults, she said.

“He texted me and said, ‘Stop, I have a family,'” she said. “And I say, ‘Yes, me too!'”

Some girls also faced young men from the secret group and received death and rape threats afterwards, she claimed.

But even for those who remained silent in the group, seeing the images and the comments roll shook them deeply, she said.

“I saw my cousin and I saw myself … I started going out with my friends,” she said.

In another video, “I saw an unconscious girl and she was, like, her head soaked in a toilet. And yes, and someone actually posted it again, ”she said.

“Why would you post this? Like, what if this girl has no idea that this video was released?”

She saw a young woman confirm that the photo that appeared of her was old, from when she was only 13 years old.

But for her, the hardest part was reading the comments of people she knew socially, she said.

“Honestly, because I have OnlyFans, I know the risks and stuff. As I know … they are going to leak,” she said.

“I think it was just more [that] these are people I know, people I talk to sometimes. People, like, I didn’t expect that. So, I felt kind of betrayed in a certain way. “

The cruelty of “hateful” language also surprised her, she said, on the part of people who did not know that the girls were present.

“These things the guys are saying about us? You know, like, to our face, they’re going to say, ‘Oh, you’re beautiful’ and stuff, and then in the group chat they’re calling us whores and saying we deserve it be raped and deserve to die, “she said.

“So I think it really pissed me off more.”

INVESTIGATION POLICE

In a statement, Montreal police said the force “would like to reiterate that the non-consensual distribution of intimate images involving minors is a serious crime, punishable by criminal charges.”

They invite anyone with information about the situation to call 911, go to a police station or call the Montreal Info-Crime line.

But a small group of women protested Monday night in downtown Montreal, saying their concerns were not heard.

The 20-year-old said she went with three friends last Thursday, first to the downtown police station and then to Westmount.

At first, she said that no one came out to greet them, but asked them to call a phone number over the intercom. The receptionist told them to report in person.

They tried Westmount station, but the officer didn’t seem interested, she said.

On Tuesday, the police said they were “aware of the situation and an ongoing investigation”, and that they could not comment further to “not interfere in the process”.

A Montreal legal clinic, specializing in sexual harassment and assault, said there are some resources available in similar situations.

Those involved can be charged with criminal harassment, extortion or sharing nude photos without consent, said Virginie Maloney, director of operations at Juripop Legal Clinic.

A civil suit is also an option, she said.

However, in cases like this, “the problem is that I don’t think the people who are there are going to necessarily publish it,” she said. Often, “people, they want to keep this to themselves” for fear of making the damage worse.

However, it is also important to remember that if you shared a nude photo with a single person, such as an ex-boyfriend, you know at least who had access to that photo initially, she said. So, even if people can’t prove who leaked a photo on some other forum, “they can always go back to the first person who originally had access.”



Paula Fonseca