Update 2 - Concern continues to rage over lewd 'selfies' shared online - Site is taken down
Updated Thursday 10 a.m.
Singer Ira Losco has clarified a Facebook post she made on Thursday after explicit 'selfies' of a number of young Maltese woman were posted on the social networking site Tumblr, sparking fears of cyber-bulling and 'revenge porn'.
The popular singer had taken to Facebook to condemn the “very irresponsible men” who were sharing the photos of young women who were ‘friends’ with her on the social network.
“This is cyber bullying and I hope it is being dealt with, because I do not want to be that parent opening a mail and finding my daughter's photo staring back at me,” she wrote.
Ms Losco also expressed alarm that “such young women would send pictures of a certain nature to peers they naturally can’t trust.”
In her clarification, Ms Losco said she wanted to make it crystal clear that the girls should not have taken the pictures in the first place.
"They are the most at fault, followed by whoever takes advantage to use such pics which land themselves in an array of trouble - revenge porn, money bribes, suicides ... All forms of cyber bullying.
"But make no mistake in interpreting my disapproval of girls flaunting their naked body on a photo to be shared. We all make mistakes when we're young and we're all human but if we can bring such issues to light it might bring about something positive and maybe even save lives which are crushed in the aftermath."
Revenge porn is typically uploaded by jilted lovers or hackers. It is a highly controversial practice that has faced legal challenges in the US.
On Monday, Israel became the first country to ban naked photos and sexually explicit films that were posted online without the subjects' consent.
The photos in Malta have since been removed but they are believed to have been widely shared through social networks and mobile phones.
One of the women posted a comment on the blog in question claiming to have uploaded two lewd ‘selfies’ to her Instagram account by accident. She threatened to report the Tumblr blog to the police.
The Tumblr blog in question asks viewers to submit photos of “Maltese girls only”.
One of the Tumblr blog operators posted yesterday that there would be a “change in tactics” due to complaints. It would now only upload self-submissions with hidden or blurred faces, although its means of verifying that subjects had submitted the images were not specified.
This morning (Thursday) the site was taken down.
IT and communications lawyer Antonio Ghio said the blog could still fall foul of pornography and obscenity laws despite this new policy.
Distributing, circulating or publicly displaying pornographic material in Malta is prohibited by Article 208 of the Criminal Code.
He also pointed out that Tumblr is not a Maltese website.
“If the server is based in US it might lead to enforcement problems. We would need to establish where material is being posted from.
“If they [the bloggers] are not based in Malta one would question whether Maltese law would apply,” Dr Ghio said, pointing out that foreign porn sites available in Malta do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Maltese authorities.
The police have confirmed they are investigating the case on the basis of spreading porn. A police spokesperson reminded the public of the importance of exercising caution when sharing private information.
“The same applies for those instances when an individual knowingly allows photos of private moments to be taken.
“It must be pointed out that it is very difficult to control the dissemination of such content once it is being circulated over the internet or through other means.
“In such situations, prevention is better than the cure,” the police said.