When Someone Goes All Crazy on You and Spams Your Online Profile With Nastiness

Last week I discussed the concept of the “digital tattoo” and how our online footprint can have lasting effects—for better or worse. Well, teens and others who were liberal with their use of Snapchat may be scrambling today as news comes out that the app’s 10 seconds-or-less deletion feature may be saving photos directly on the user’s phone. Uh-oh. Here’s what KSL.com in Utah is reporting:

Orem-based firm Decipher Forensics said it has derived a method to extract the supposedly no-longer-viewable images and pass them on to parents, lawyers and law enforcement.

"The actual app is even saving the picture," said Richard Hickman, a digital forensics examiner. "They claim that it's deleted, and it's not even deleted. It's actually saved on the phone."

Here’s Snapchat’s response.

As a colleague and I discussed earlier today, we’re just glad this technology wasn’t around when we were in high school and college. For some, there could be lasting effects from uploading risqué photos or posting compromising personal information.

Unfortunately, sometimes posting compromising information isn’t up to the user. Yesterday, I came across this story of a 29 year-old who is continuously haunted by his ex-girlfriend online—to the point where he’s having trouble getting a job. Here’s what the Today Show reported:

“Lee David Clayworth, 35, met Lee Ching Yan, 29, while he was teaching at an international school in Malaysia. They began casually dating in mid-2010, said Clayworth, who called it quits by December. ‘I decided to go my own way,’ he told TODAY, describing a relationship that at times ‘wasn't the healthiest.’ Unfortunately, he said, the dumping ‘didn't go down so well with her.’

After their breakup, Yan allegedly broke in and stole Clayworth’s laptop and teacher portfolio. Clayworth’s e-mail and Skype accounts were hacked. And this started happening:

“Personal photos which he'd stored on his laptop started appearing, along with his full name and a variety of crude claims. By cramming the Internet with these publicly viewable posts, Yan managed to make it so that anyone searching for his name would immediately see all of the nastiness.”

Clayworth even got a court order from Malaysia to stop the harassment. But Yan remains elusive. And now Clayworth says he can’t get a job and blames it on her online onslaught.

His attempts to have Google, Bing and other websites remove the damaging data have gone unanswered.

Or what about all the cases we hear of ex-boyfriends posting compromising photos of women to various revenge porn sites? Ars Technica recently reported on a lawsuit filed by a woman who said an ex-boyfriend posted nude photos of her on such sites.

The harm and embarrassment from these experiences is tough to quantify. But finding legal and technical means of redress is complicated. Is the web host liable? Should search engines filter out these types of posts? If so, how?

It reminds me of the difficulties of implementing the Right to be Forgotten. It’s been reported that its implementation would be a technical nightmare. And what about the First Amendment and other issues of free speech? Sure, sometimes we make mistakes earlier in life, but what if it has bearing on our current endeavors? If someone’s running for office now, but participated in fraud earlier in life, it behooves the public to know.

But really, who wants to know that an ex-girlfriend is mad at her former spouse and has released pictures of his…well, in that case, maybe the Right to be Forgotten can work in everyone’s favor…

photo credit: twenty_questions via photopin cc

Written By

Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/E, CIPP/US

1 Comment

If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.

  • Annie C. Bai May 21, 2013

    The scary thing is that this can happen even if you didn't dump someone or do anything wrong.  We are all vulnerable to the craziness of one other person!  
    What do you think about all the young people who are haunted by their own missteps or casual jibber-jabber on social media?  I wrote a piece for our local online paper to raise awareness on this: "Teens Need an Internet Eraser." http://bedford.patch.com/groups/annie-c-bais-blog/p/teens-need-an-internet-eraser


Board of Directors

See the esteemed group of leaders shaping the future of the IAPP.

Contact Us

Need someone to talk to? We’re here for you.

IAPP Staff

Looking for someone specific? Visit the staff directory.

Learn more about the IAPP»

Daily Dashboard

The day’s top stories from around the world

Privacy Perspectives

Where the real conversations in privacy happen

The Privacy Advisor

Original reporting and feature articles on the latest privacy developments

Privacy Tracker

Alerts and legal analysis of legislative trends

Privacy Tech

Exploring the technology of privacy

Canada Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top Canadian privacy news

Europe Data Protection Digest

A roundup of the top European data protection news

Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from the Asia-Pacific region

Latin America Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from Latin America

IAPP Westin Research Center

Original works. Groundbreaking research. Emerging scholars.

Get more News »

IAPP Communities

Meet locally with privacy pros, dive deep into specialized topics or connect over common interests. Find your Community in KnowledgeNet Chapters, Sections and Affinity Groups.

IAPP Job Board

Looking for a new challenge, or need to hire your next privacy pro? The IAPP Job Board is the answer.

Join the Privacy List

Have ideas? Need advice? Subscribe to the Privacy List. It’s crowdsourcing, with an exceptional crowd.

Find a KnowledgeNet Chapter Near You

Talk privacy and network with local members at IAPP KnowledgeNet Chapter meetings, taking place worldwide.

Find more ways to Connect »

Find a Privacy Training Class

Two-day privacy training classes are held around the world. See the complete schedule now.

The Privacy Core™ Library Has Evolved

Privacy Core™ e-learning essentials just expanded to include seven new units for marketers. Keep your data safe and your staff in the know!

Online Privacy Training

Build your knowledge. The privacy know-how you need is just a click away.

Upcoming Web Conferences

See our list of upcoming web conferences. Just log on, listen in and learn!

Train Your Team

Get your team up to speed on privacy by bringing IAPP training to your organization.

Let’s Get You DPO Ready

There’s no better time to train than right now! We have all the resources you need to meet the challenges of the GDPR.

Learn more »

CIPP Certification

The global standard for the go-to person for privacy laws, regulations and frameworks

CIPM Certification

The first and only privacy certification for professionals who manage day-to-day operations

CIPT Certification

The industry benchmark for IT professionals worldwide to validate their knowledge of privacy requirements

FIP Designation

Recognizing the advanced knowledge and issue-spotting skills a privacy pro must attain in today’s complex world of data privacy.

Certify Your Staff

Find out how you can bring the world’s only globally recognized privacy certification to a group in your organization.


The IAPP’S CIPP/E and CIPM are the ANSI/ISO-accredited, industry-recognized combination for DPO readiness. Learn more today.

Learn more about IAPP certification »

Are You Ready for the GDPR?

Check out the IAPP's EU Data Protection Reform page for all the tools and resources you need.

IAPP-OneTrust PIA Platform

New U.S. Government Agency privacy impact assessments - free to IAPP members!

IAPP Communities

Meet locally with privacy pros, dive deep into specialized topics or connect over common interests. Find your Community in KnowledgeNet Chapters, Sections and Affinity Groups.

Privacy Vendor List

Find a privacy vendor to meet your needs with our filterable list of global service providers.

More Resources »

Europe Data Protection Intensive 2017

The Intensive is sold out! But cancellations do happen—so hurry and get on the wait list in case more seats become available.

Global Privacy Summit 2017

The world’s premier privacy conference returns with the sharpest minds, unparalleled programs and preeminent networking opportunities. Early Bird ends TODAY.

Canada Privacy Symposium 2017

The Symposium returns to Toronto this spring and registration has opened! Take advantage of Early Bird rates and join your fellow privacy pros for another stellar program.

The Privacy Bar Section Forum 2017

The Privacy Bar Section Forum returns to Washington, DC April 21, delivering renowned keynote speakers and a distinguished panel of legal and privacy experts.

Asia Privacy Forum 2017

The Forum returns to Singapore for exclusive networking and intensive education on data protection trends and challenges in the Asia Pacific region. Call for Speakers open!

Privacy. Security. Risk. 2017

This year, we're bringing P.S.R. to San Diego. The Call for Speakers is now open. Submit today and be a part of something big! Submission deadline: February 26.

Europe Data Protection Congress 2017

European policy debate, multi-level strategic thinking and thought-provoking discussion. The Call for Speakers is open until March 19.

Sponsor an Event

Increase visibility for your organization—check out sponsorship opportunities today.

More Conferences »

Become a Member

Start taking advantage of the many IAPP member benefits today

Corporate Members

See our list of high-profile corporate members—and find out why you should become one, too

Renew Your Membership

Don’t miss out for a minute—continue accessing your benefits

Join the IAPP»