A BBC investigation revealed that several groups and channels on Telegram had leaked countless private images without consent. These images contain nudes of women, and they are being used against them in the form of harassment, intimidation, blackmail, and shame. Telegram has more than 550 million users in the world, which is way more than Twitter.
The images also accompany the victim’s personal details like contact details and addresses. The BBC found group administrators inviting subscribers to send explicit photos of their friends, ex-partners, or colleagues, and they would post them without revealing the sender’s identity. The report raised questions about whether the rising popularity of the app had anything to do with the leaked nudes.
Leaked Nudes of Women Ruining Lives
The BBC also shared the story of two unnamed women who suffered a lot because their nudes were shared with the masses on the platform. One girl only sent her private photo to one person, but it ended up in a group of 18,000 members. Most of them were from her neighbourhood in Havana, Cuba. It made her scared to go out and even contact her friends if someone recognized her from the video.
Another woman’s video of having sex with her ex-husband was first sent to her family and then in a Telegram group with 40,000 members. She was originally from Azerbaijan but was forced to live in exile due to her brother being a solid government critic. She believed that her ex filmed her to blackmail her brother. Moreover, her mother received threats that if her brother did not stop his activism, then her video would end up on Telegram. She described her experience that people looked at her as if she was a disgrace. The woman also went to a therapist but could not forget what she went through.
It shows how men easily entertain themselves with nudes of women while the victims suffer devastating consequences.
What Actions Does Telegram Take?
Nudes of women being shared online as entertainment is a typical scenario for many. Social media platforms focus more on the subscriber count rather than the legality of what their subscribers are doing. The report revealed that the victims of the leaked images were from at least 20 countries. Investigators monitored 18 channels and 24 groups, mainly based in Brazil, Kenya, Malaysia, and Russia. The total number of their subscribers were about 2 million. According to reports, Telegram did not respond when the BBC reported both women’s leaked images. Moreover, it also displayed laziness when BBC continued to report other photos.
According to Telegram’s terms of service, there is no dedicated policy against sharing intimate images without consent. However, the platform does mention that users must agree to avoid sharing illegal pornographic content with the public and bots.
The investigators tested how seriously Telegram took its policies by reporting 100 nudes of women using the in-built reporting feature. After one month, 96 of them were still accessible, and the remaining 4 were in the locked groups. BBC said that during the investigation, a Russian account tried to sell them a folder full of child abuse material. The media agency immediately took action against that account and had it removed. However, the removal of leaked nudes seemed to be a problem.
Is There No End to It?
Whenever someone pressurizes the Telegram to close groups posting naked images, duplicates come out sharing the same kind of pictures. Telegram also refused to explain the concerns in an interview and also did not confirm whether posting private nudes of women on its platform were allowed or not.
Its lesser regulations also attracted users who were banned from other platforms. Its founder Pavel Durov stated that Telegram did not want to censor users. However, BBC investigators revealed that such moderation allowed Telegram to become a haven for users to share nudes of women openly.