Should I notify an acquaintance about a faked, sexual explicit photo of them I saw on the web?
April 12, 2009 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Should I notify an acquaintance about a (non-obvious) faked, sexually-explicit photo of her I saw on the web? Without going into graphic detail, it doesn't render her in the nude in any way, but does depict her, well, with something on her face. I know it's faked because I've seen the original, undoctored photo. Should I leave well-enough alone, or tell her?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Tell her.
posted by amro at 2:48 PM on April 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

(Wouldn't you want to know, if roles were reversed?)
posted by amro at 2:48 PM on April 12, 2009

Oh my god tell her. Why wouldn't you? (Unless you think she doctored it and put it up there...but if she's okay with that, she'd be okay with you seeing it and mentioning it.)
posted by meerkatty at 2:51 PM on April 12, 2009

If you barely know this acquaintance, then it could be a little awkward. But if the two of you are at all friendly, it would probably be better to tell her.
posted by ambulatorybird at 2:51 PM on April 12, 2009

Tell her, but if you feel uncomfortable doing so then email her from an anonymous, throwaway account.
posted by Ugh at 2:52 PM on April 12, 2009

Tell her. Absolutely tell her.
posted by jayder at 2:54 PM on April 12, 2009

If I were Acquaintance, I'd certainly like to know.
posted by halogen at 3:00 PM on April 12, 2009

Does she have any recourse? As in, is the image hosted by an individual or at a legit site like Facebook? Is it in the possession of someone she knows?

I mean, if it's just some random pic on 4chan that someone doctored without knowing her, then what's the point? There is nothing she can do about it.

I'd rather not know in that case.
posted by wfrgms at 3:04 PM on April 12, 2009

I'm with wfrgms on this one. The genie is probably out of the bottle, so maybe ignorance is bliss?
posted by dbarefoot at 3:05 PM on April 12, 2009

Have a good reason for seeing the photo. You wouldn't want it to turn into a situation like this [nsfw text].
posted by null terminated at 3:06 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Considering something like that could come back to bite her in a professional capacity should the wrong person see it, I'm going to have to strongly disagree with wfrgms and dbarefoot on this.

Tell her.
posted by cmgonzalez at 4:27 PM on April 12, 2009

I don't think you should tell her.

In all likelihood, nobody who sees that picture (particularly in the circumstance in which the viewing would likely take place) would ever remember the girl's face after about 10 minutes. The only potentially harmful situation is if someone who currently knows her sees it; but, they would be more likely to think "Hey, that looks like Acquaintance!" than "Hey, that's Acquaintance!"

Also, telling her would make her very upset, and she most likely has no recourse. Ignorance is bliss, particularly considering the small probability of it coming back to haunt her.
posted by Simon Barclay at 4:58 PM on April 12, 2009

Dont tell her.
posted by the cuban at 5:06 PM on April 12, 2009

As noted above, there's a lot of the surrounding details that need to be determined first.

1) Is the image searchable or named in any way? (i.e. - if someone is looking for her, will they find the altered pic?)
2) Is the image on some sort of organized collection that will either validate it's a fake (i.e. - a photoshop contest for or such), or lend it credibility (i.e. - in a collection of porn pics)?
3) Is the hosting of the altered pic a group that can be contacted and asked to remove the picture?
4) What sort of damage is this likely to cause the person (i.e. - will this wreck her career or marriage, or will she laugh it off?).
5) Are there mutual acquaintances that might be better at handling it? (i.e. - a lawyer or law enforcement person.)

Those above questions will help determine if any action should be taken.
posted by GJSchaller at 5:16 PM on April 12, 2009

if it were a friend of mine, I'd try to get the picture taken down without telling her, and only let her know if I couldn't get it offline.
posted by Billegible at 5:17 PM on April 12, 2009

Whoever made the fake probably has no idea who she is and just happened to find her photo while looking for any photo of a woman's face. There's no reason to tell her. Plus, along the lines of the "behind him in line" quote above, it would raise questions of how you found it in the first place. Frankly, you don't tend to just randomly find porn-fakes like that. That's a specific fetish, and the fakes tend to be on websites and communities oriented toward that fetish.

And before you ask how *I* know this, I'm something of a connoisseur of outre sexual fetishes and their presence on the Internet in particular.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:17 PM on April 12, 2009

The main downside of telling her is that she simply won't be able to do anything about it.
posted by rodgerd at 6:26 PM on April 12, 2009

Why not just leave it on her desk or something with a note, 'This is a fake, did you know?' add the website and leave it at that. Anonymous tip style.
posted by maxpower at 6:31 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ewww, maxpower, are you serious? That's the worst thing you can do. Someone else might see it on her desk. She isn't going to know the motivation behind someone leaving it. It's really cowardly. If someone has to tell her, she at least deserves knowing that the person has her back.

I don't have advice for the OP to add, except that GJSchaller has the most thoughtful answer so far.
posted by zinfandel at 6:48 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

If she ever found it on her own, would she come to you and ask you if you knew about it?

If that is unlikely, I would not tell her. That way either a. She never finds out about it at all or b. She finds out about it but thinks, perhaps, no one she knows has seen it.

However, I would hate to be put in a situation where I had to fess up.
posted by Foam Pants at 7:44 PM on April 12, 2009

If it were me in the picture, I wouldn't want to know.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:27 PM on April 12, 2009

Is there anything she can do about it? If yes, then absolutely tell her. If there probably isn't (and I feel that given the nature of the internet this may be likely) I wouldn't. It may or may not show it's ugly face, so to speak, in her life one day. But if there is nothing she can do to prevent it, well no reason for her to be freaking out in the meantime. And yeah I would do it anonymously unless you had a really good reason for stumbling onto it.
posted by whoaali at 9:56 PM on April 12, 2009

If it were me, I would like to know.
posted by serazin at 11:37 PM on April 12, 2009

I wouldn't.

I have experience in this telling thing, alas (regarding non-faked photos), and really, it manifested as enabling the person who was harassing her to make her upset.

Whoever made the fake probably has no idea who she is

Actually, no. There are photoshop artists who will do this for free if you supply the photo, and forums where they hang out. The original was probably given to one of these dudes to alter by someone who has access to it and wanted that particular person to look like this as a fantasy. A creep. It would be bad enough to do this in private, but the nature of such things is generally that the originals are posted and the alterations are posted, both in public.
posted by dhartung at 12:12 AM on April 13, 2009

This happened to my god mother, but the faked photo was really explicit. She was successful in having it scrubbed from the places she found it by contacting the web hosting companies who hosted the sites that had the photo. This was back in '98 & we've never been able to find a copy of it since.
posted by zarah at 6:08 AM on April 13, 2009

Oh, duh, forgot to answer the question. Yes, I'd tell her, so would my god mother. We'd both want to know if it were us.
posted by zarah at 6:10 AM on April 13, 2009

Yeah, I have a Flickr site with lots and lots of public, non-explicit, perfectly innocent photos of me, and I get emails all the time from well-meaning perfect strangers saying, "Uh, I hate to tell you this, but this person obviously stole your photo...."

I think the creepiest was a Caucasian crossdresser's big manly horse face TERRIBLY photoshopped onto my petite, Latina body (so incredibly creepy and fake looking). I contacted the photo-stealing tranny, they took it right down, and I never would have known it even existed if some stranger didn't take the time to email me about it.

So, yeah, I've been in this sitch, and I would have appreciated you telling me about it. However, I usually have recourse (you can message people through Flickr, and there's a long complicated you can go through if someone steals your photos to get Yahoo to take them down/delete their account). I can see the point of the people who say "don't tell her" if there's absolutely no way it's ever getting taken down.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:30 AM on April 13, 2009

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