EDITOR’S NOTE: Because of the nature and content of the Facebook page in this story, we are withholding the name of the page.
All it took was one post on Facebook. Someone asked for pictures of all of the “hos” in Schenectady, along with a description of their sexual deeds, and within hours, photos were flooding onto a new Facebook profile created to humiliate young girls.
Adults were horrified Monday to learn about the page, created on Sunday and already featuring photos of middle school girls, some of them semi-nude.
Victims included many students from Schalmont Middle School in Rotterdam, as well as a few from schools in the Schenectady and Mohonasen districts.
Each girl was identified by name and described in derogatory ways. One girl was accused of being a “13 year old prostitute” and several others were accused of “sleeping around.”
Having sex with multiple partners was held up for ridicule, as was having sex at all. One girl was ridiculed for allegedly having an abortion, while another was scorned for allegedly having a baby.
The only boy featured on the site was accused of being gay.
“This is misogynistic behavior,” said YWCA Executive Director Rowie Taylor. “There’s no doubt there’s bullying and harassment and sexual assault and domestic violence. This is just a total invasion of people’s privacy.”
The mother of one girl whose photo was posted on the site was distraught over the situation.
“What is wrong with these children?” she asked. Social media “empowers the bully to the point that they literally hit one button and they have access to thousands of kids. And at this vulnerable age, these girls don’t realize this is on there forever,” the mother told The Daily Gazette in a phone interview.
She wanted to know how to remove the post, and after she spoke with her daughter, the post was removed.
But the poster kept adding more.
Some friends of the victims even began posting to the site, berating the poster. Some called it immature, while others said it wasn’t funny and some even offered to fight the person who created the site.
One girl defended a friend by writing, “This is not f---ing true! She actually has self respect!!! Delete this s---!”
Taylor said the site’s existence showed gaping holes in society.
“We’re obviously failing our children miserably,” she said. “Where is our sense of decency and respect?”
One victim suggested that she knew the person who created the page, indicating that it was a fellow middle school student.
That page included 10 publicly available photos Tuesday and a post inviting new submissions. It was unclear if further posts were being made privately. The page is one that allows users to friend it. On Tuesday, it counted more than 100 friends.
Schenectady law enforcement officials, informed of the page Tuesday by a Gazette reporter, said the Facebook page as it appeared Tuesday didn’t appear to have any obvious criminal content. Schenectady police spokesman Lt. Mark McCracken said he forwarded a link to the page to the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office for a final determination on whether any crimes had been committed.
“Twelve, 13, 14-year-old kids are stupid,” said the YWCA’s Taylor. “We’ve all been there. We were all dumb.”
But she added that they need to be taught — quickly.
“They weren’t thinking about the young girls who have committed suicide over things that have been posted online,” she said “We need to take a really big stance. As adults, we owe that to youth, to say ‘No, that’s not OK.’ ”
Taylor also said adults need to talk to some of the victims in this case.
Some of the girls had taken semi-nude photos of themselves and given them to a boyfriend or simply posted them directly to their own Facebook page.
In those cases, those photos were used to illustrate the accusations on the Facebook site.
Taylor said she had hoped teens knew such pictures could end up being posted anywhere.
“I thought that we had really, as a society, gotten a handle on people not sexting,” she said. “Do they not understand the ramifications?”