Do I tell an old coworker that her "private" pictures are online?
September 5, 2012 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Do I tell an old coworker that her "private" pictures are online?

I worked with this coworker about 2 years ago for a few months, and while never super close, we did go out for happy hours and I also went to a party one time at her ex's house. I came across a picture that bears a very close resemblance to her (face and body pic), and also the way her ex's house looked. I have no idea if this is actually her, however her abusive ex has already threatened her with this. They broke up right before I left the job, so that was about 2 years ago as well. The timestamp has it being submitted about 3 months ago, and TinEye didn't reveal anything else about the original source. It was on Reddit, but not on a self submit subreddit, so no idea if she is aware of it or when it originally came to the internet.

Should I give her a heads up or just forget I saw anything? I didn't know her well enough to judge if she would have released the pics openly.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yes. Absolutely let her know. Apologize for bothering her, but state that given what you know of the abusive ex, you just thought she'd appreciate the heads up.

Trust me. Any possible mild annoyance of having a concerned friendly person ask her about it is very much outweighed by the actual risk that the abusive ex has done this thing that may impact her professional and other life. If she knows, she can start mitigating the impact.

I know it's embarassing. If you're not sure you can deal with the embarrassment, create a throwaway email address and do it. I am sure she will be very grateful once she gets past the initial shock.
posted by corb at 8:48 AM on September 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


This happened to my girlfriend, except her identity was ambiguous, but the photo was sent through her (hacked) email to everyone in her address book. It's a tough thing to tell her. It'll be upsetting. But she should know that her ex is even more of an asshole than she already knew.
posted by smorange at 8:49 AM on September 5, 2012


I faced this issue earlier this year, and decided to leave it be. My reasoning was: her knowing won't be useful, she won't be able t remove them from the internet. Reddit may take the post down if she asked, but unless it was very popular, no one is searching it out anyway. If it was popular, people saved the pics and they'll be re-posted the next time someone asks for them.

On preview, I missed the abusive ex part. That certainly changes it. I would do what corn suggests, which is to sockpuppet-up and let her know anonymously.
posted by InsanePenguin at 8:50 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Naked pictures on the internet are like pee in a swimming pool. She might be able to get them removed from the subreddit, but I can 100% guarantee they've already made it to newsgroups, forums, other subreddits, etc. She'll never be able to cleanse the internet of this, unfortunately. Unless there's some sort of action that can be taken against the ex for doing this -- I actually have no idea if there is or not, nor what the standard of proof would be -- I'd say it's best to not tell her if you do not know her very well. The "unauthorized naked pictures" rabbit hole is deep, and it sounds like she's been through enough.

What you could do is contact the subreddit's administrator (or whatever) and tell them to take down those pictures of your sister/girlfriend/whatever lie you need to tell to make it sound like you have a personal stake in this.
posted by A god with hooves, a god with horns at 8:50 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


What you could do is contact the subreddit's administrator (or whatever) and tell them to take down those pictures of your sister/girlfriend/whatever lie you need to tell to make it sound like you have a personal stake in this.

I think this is much creepier than just letting her know, I would emphatically not do this.
posted by enn at 8:55 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, you're right, enn. I was thinking of things the original poster could do without telling her, and that was the best I could do. I didn't realize that it would actually come off as incredibly creepy and boundary-violating. Forget I mentioned it, anon, and don't do it.
posted by A god with hooves, a god with horns at 9:02 AM on September 5, 2012


Man, I am going to go strongly against the grain and just say that what she doesn't know won't hurt her.

As said above, her pics are likely on tens or hundreds of sites by now, and what would be the point of her knowing that it's "out there"? She can't reclaim it.

I am going to going further and ask: You aren't even sure it's her, it's been a long time since you had seen her ex's house so it might not even be it, you weren't close to her, and you haven't seen her for a few years, and you only worked with her briefly anyway. Why not just let it go; why do you care so much? She might even think it's extremely creepy that you know her body well enough to remember enough about what she might look like to think that it's her in the first place, as you haven't talked to her in two years.
posted by TinWhistle at 9:05 AM on September 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'd let her know, but maybe do it from a throwaway email account with a link to the photos. There's no need to bring yourself into the mess.
posted by modernnomad at 9:06 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


+1 for don't say anything.
posted by colin_l at 9:09 AM on September 5, 2012


Anon, if you're a guy she may be creeped out if you contact her about this, but if you're a woman she will probably be grateful.
posted by mareli at 9:10 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Please let her know. The timestamp is 3 months ago. If the abusive ex is the person who uploaded it, then he is still actively doing things to damage her.

Making her aware of the problem is a kindness.
posted by 26.2 at 9:19 AM on September 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


This has happened to me -- I was your co-worker and my boss confronted me. Except it wasn't me. Bottom line: unless you and your co-worker are best buds and/or she is extremely open about these things, you will come off as a creep, regardless of whether it's her or not. Forget it and move on.

See my answer to a previous similar question (other good opinions there too).
posted by ellenaim at 9:35 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


+1 for telling her. In case she is pursuing any legal action against him (such as a restraining order) it is important for her, her lawyers, and the judge to know this is happening.
posted by pantarei70 at 9:41 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Don't tell her. She probably knows, and a former-friend or acquaintance emailing her out of the blue would just be a depressing reminder that it'll never end.

There are probably people out there who know her better, who would be more certain that it's her, who have perhaps already told her sometime in the last 3 months. In fact, if the abusive ex posted photos on the internet, he'd probably want to be sure she knew about it.
posted by aimedwander at 9:47 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like the idea of telling her from the legal standpoint against the ex, and I like the idea of avoiding mortification by not telling her. It may just come down to your own personal values, which from the phrasing of your question seem to indicate that your instinct is to stay quiet about it.
posted by rhizome at 9:54 AM on September 5, 2012


another +1 for telling her. my god, I would want to know.
posted by changeling at 10:12 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, please tell her. There's nothing she can do to put the toothpaste back in the tube with _these_ pictures, but maybe she can start to take actions to protect herself from her obviously still scary ex.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:00 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you decide to tell her, I would vote that you NOT do it anonymously from a throw-away email. Getting some out-of-the-blue, anon email from someone who, for some unknown reason, wants to stay secret and knows who-knows-what-else about you? That would be so haunting.

Just shoot her an email and say, Hey, I came across this, worried it is you, wanted to let you know. Keep it simple.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 11:11 AM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


People seem to think that she will be upset that you contacted her. She may actually take it completely differently. You can communicate this as, "I saw this. I was concerned about you. You are not alone in finding your ex's behavior unacceptable" Abusers thrive when they can isolate their victims. Telling her in a respectful way demonstrates that the ex's behavior is unacceptable to others.

It's impossible to forecast how she'll respond.
posted by 26.2 at 11:18 AM on September 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


You tell her so he doesn't put more pictures up or do worse. This is a safety issue.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:20 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


her abusive ex has already threatened her with this

How do you know this? Did she tell you herself? I would think that if you know her well enough to be privy to that sort of information, then you are definitely close enough that it would be appropriate and non-creepy to let her know.
posted by naoko at 9:46 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Contact her with throwaway. I'd want to know.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:08 PM on September 5, 2012


Tough call, I think personally I'd keep it to myself, there's nothing she can do but if you contact her with a throwaway address, she might spend the rest of forever wondering which one of her friends/family has definitely seen her nekid, which might well be much worse then the truth.
posted by purplemonkeydishwasher at 4:02 AM on September 6, 2012


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