‘Makes me sick’: Instagram profiles haunting young women
Fake and sexually explicit Instagram profiles with links to pornographic material, including masturbation videos, have young Queensland women scared of using one of the world's most popular social media platforms.
Young women aged between 18 to 26 across different areas of southeast Queensland, including Brisbane, Logan, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, have been shocked in recent weeks to find R-rated profiles pretending to be them.
The profiles have ripped pictures, including swimwear shots, from their actual accounts with most also having a link to a fake OnlyFans account asking for followers to subscribe.
Some links then have pornographic material, including videos, which are not from the people the profiles are pretending to be.
Most fake profiles are taken down by Instagram quickly after being reported, although some still remain online with users now fearing for their wellbeing.
"When I initially found out about the account, I was contacted by friends and family basically telling me that a fake account had been made about me which was posting sexual and explicit videos online and pretending to be me by using my face and photos as the main images but the videos were definitely not me," a 21-year-old, who had a fake profile made of them last week, said.
"Initially I was in complete shock at who had the time to do this over and over again as I had seen it happen to people recently before but I never thought it would happen to me.
"I was concerned about the ramifications it would have if my employer was to have found it and would have been under the impression it was me.
"My career could of been affected due to the videos being put out online. I do have families and young kids following me on social media and being contacted to follow or buy my images is scary to think about."
Another 21-year-old Sunshine Coast woman said a fake profile being made up of her had her thinking twice about using Instagram.
"On Monday morning I had messages from a couple of old friends to make me aware of a fake account made of me and then the messages just kept rolling it," she said.
"Once I looked at the account I was shocked, it mentioned I had an OnlyFans account and numerous of other false statements.
"It really shocked me as you can't quiet comprehend why someone would do this. It made me second guess Instagram as a platform.
"I was lucky enough to have had so many people report this account sooner rather than later as I know one of my friends had two made of her roughly two months ago that still haven't been removed.
"I do understand once you put something on the internet, you are held accountable for anything that happens as you willingly posted it, but the fact that the person behind this fake account only used pictures of me in my swimwear made me feel sick.
"Why? Why would someone feel the urge to do this to young women throughout the world. I guess we will never know."
A Facebook company spokesman, which also owns Instagram, said they had a specialised team dedicated to detecting and blocking impersonation scams.
"(These accounts) are expressly prohibited by our Community Guidelines," he said.
"Our rules do not allow people to create accounts for the purpose of misleading others nor do we allow pornographic content on Instagram."
ESafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said identity theft scams and imposter accounts had become all too common these days but they have been successful in having 85 per cent of image-based abuse content reported to them taken down.
"It's a sad fact of today's connected world that once you share a message, photo or video online you may not be able to control where it goes or how long it stays online," she said.
"When it comes to the use of social media, we advise restricting the amount of personal information you share and to only connect with people you know.
"While it might feel a bit like you're being a bit anti-social on social media, restricting what you share and who you share it with really is the best way to ensure your private information and images are not misused."
Ms Grant said image-based abuse victims could report to eSafety at www.esafety.gov.au/report for help, support and advice.
Originally published as 'Makes me sick': R-rated Instagram profiles haunting young women