NZGirl is not safe

Perhaps it’s because the site is aimed at teenagers, and they are asking teenagers to show their breasts to everyone.

Or perhaps it is because they are saying some breasts are better than others – when breast cancer folks are very careful to avoid that <update – this was reported by 3News, but @jenene says it is not at all true><update 2: Actually it is true – there is a Facebook Like button next to each pair.

Here, pointed out by @boganetteNZ, is what happened to some of those pictures:

>

Or perhaps it is because it’s such a naked attempt to get publicity for a site that is dead in the water due to Facebook.

Or perhaps it’s just bad <database/server> design.

It certainly is lousy website <infrastructure> design – the site has been offline, apparently, for much of today.

Whatever it is – any reputation NZGirl had is now toast.

As a reminder:

  1. Parents – don’t let your kids go there. It may be named ‘girl’ but NZGirl is aimed at older folks. It’s not safe.
  2. Those over 16 – don’t ever place pictures of yourself naked online, and don’t even take them in the first place. Your current friends and colleagues will see them, as will your future employers, boyfriends, children. Data always escapes.
  3. NZGirl – fess up that it was a dumb idea, take the promotion down and pay $10,00 to the cause immediately. You’ve had your publicity now stop the damage.

Check out the Dr K Breast Checker (from Lingopal) to help you check your breasts regularly. No photos required.

Also check out the Susan G Komen website for good information on the issue of breast cancer.

And this article in Salon talks about selling breasts for cancer

<update. Some tweets

It’s hard to answer this without sounding like a fusty curmudgeon.

Kate may or may not be a victim – that depends on exactly what she uploaded and what else is already out there. However feeling like a victim is not an essential element of being one.

To that point, I really hope this is not true yet.

(later)

Oh heck – it actually is:

@wandaharland raises a good point here:

My take is that they thought it was a clever idea but never really considered the implications, or tested it with enough people outside the NZGirl RDF. It was perhaps driven by both business and a passion for the cause, but not, as very little actually is,  deliberately evil.

I’ve called out a lot of businesses and websites here and elsewhere. The responses range from defensiveness, to aggression, to heavy internal discussions but nothing public (but a quiet word a year or two later) to (my favorite response) a phone call, decent conversation and thanks for pointing out an issue.

This one is tough for NZGirl  as the mainstream press picked it up first, and stances have been set, and yes – I came out angry and swinging. I still believe the right thing to do is make a splash of paying some money to the cause and exit stage left.>

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
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32 Responses to NZGirl is not safe

  1. I can not help but think that there must have been a meeting in which at least one intelligent person must have thought it was a good idea to ask women to send in pictures of their breasts. Was it a committee of 14 year old boys?

    I saw a tweet this morning from @honorarykiwi telling the world her boobs were online. “@honorarykiwi: My boobs are on the internet, and I’m proud that they are: http://ow.ly/3hTm1 @nzgirlHQ” I thought her timeline was infected with spam of some kind and did not feel the need to follow this link.

    Let’s not hope other parts of our reproductive system will be compromised with heavy diseases. I’d hate to think about the campaigns that may be the result of that.

    However I agree that awareness for these kinds of diseases must be raised.

  2. kenfreer says:

    Lance, unfortunately you are clearly missing the point here.

    NZGirl is most certainly not aimed at teenagers, nor is it suggesting they “show their breasts to everyone”. Whatever you feel about NZGirl as a site (I note that your blog is hardly the epitome of online design), it is unfair to take that out on the girls for what they are trying to achieve with this campaign.

    If you had paid much attention to the campaign, you would have noticed that NZGirl is not asking women to post naked photos of themselves. While a number have chosen to bare all (including at least one breast cancer survivor that I’ve seen), the vast majority of photos that have been posted are clothed. Those who choose to go unclothed do so in complete anonymity because, if you’d bothered to look at the upload facility, you’d know there is no personal information asked for.

    Also, you will probably have already noticed that there is no advertising on the campaign’s pages, so NZGirl is hardly profiting from the campaign.

    Sure, this campaign isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and there’s nothing wrong with that. While I chose not to grow a mustache this Movember, it doesn’t take away from any support I have for the causes they were highlighting.

    I say full credit to the NZGirl team for putting their money where their mouth is and coming up with a fantastic way of keeping this incredibly important issue in the public arena.

    And yes, before you call me on it, one of the directors of NZGirl is my ex-wife.

  3. lance says:

    The design comment relates to the infrastructure behind it. NZGirl, like this site, appears to be done on wordpress. The difference is that this is hosted on WordPress.com and NZGirl’s hosting system was unable to cope. There are ways to help it cope with spikey events like this.

    As for the design of this blog? Please attack the ball, not the paddock.

    Porn sites look for pictures such as those posted, and spread them around the web. Is that ok?

    The site is aimed at teens, as the updates to the post show. The T&Cs for the competition do not have a lower age limit. The site is named NZGirl, and has a tagline aimed at them. None of this makes soliciting photos of breasts ok. Remember – what a teenager thinks is ok to upload is often not actually ok.

  4. kenfreer says:

    Lance,

    I see you’ve updated your post to qualify your comments on the ‘design’ of the site. Sure the infrastructure of the site might have struggled to cope with the influx of traffic today. But you would surely acknowledge this is not peculiar to NZGirl (remembering how Wikileaks crashed earlier this week after the publicity surrounding their latest expose).

    I’m still struggling to rationalise your comments about the so-called porn nature of the photos posted. Surely the photos posted are no more explicit than those posted on any fashion blog these days. In fact, the home page of Stuff today had a headline photo of two scantily clad bikini-wearing girls that was far more provocative than almost all of the photos on NZGirl.

    I think you need to clarify exactly what your gripe is. Are you simply knocking NZGirl as a site because you can? Do you have a fundamental issue with the notion of allowing women to be proud of their bodies in support of a good cause? Or do you genuinely believe NZGirl is alleviating inappropriate online behaviour by minors online? Because reading your post, it comes across as being somewhat schizophrenic in purpose.

  5. Great post Lance. I wholeheartedly agree with you. This campaign makes me so sad.
    I work with teenage girls all around NZ on issues such as body image, self-esteem and personal safety.
    I have blogged about the issue from my perspctive here – http://www.rachelhansen.org/1/post/2010/11/should-we-be-asking-girls-to-get-your-tits-out-for-the-girls.html

  6. Lance Wiggs says:

    Ken
    What Rachel said is the essence of what I am saying here. The site is aimed at teens, and encouraging visitors to post pictures of their breasts.

    There are plenty of soft porn sites that look for pictures of young naked girls to attract traffic. And yes – they get photos from Facebook, Flickr and other sites. And no – I am not going to link to a pron site from here.

  7. Katemcgahan says:

    Hi Lance,

    Just a couple of genuine questions ( promise) .

    When you say that my being a victim depends on what exactly I uploaded and what else is out there – what do you mean by that?

    Also, you took a screen shot of a picture of me and posted it on your blog without my permission – I’m not that bothered, but I can’t help thinking that goes against what you are trying to say about pictures being posted elsewhere.

    • Lance Wiggs says:

      Hi Kate

      I’ve updated the post – and included the screenshot of the porn site. If you are in one of the pictures on it then you may be a victim, but only if you mind it being there and have not already put similar pictures of yourself online (the what is out there comment).

      Once something is on the internet then it is subject to being copied and spread around under fair use or fair dealing. Let me know if you want something removed (I don’t know which is you). As you can see I censored the more risque shots.

  8. Katemcgahan says:

    Hi Lance.

    I meant the screen shot of my twitter profil. Happy to for it to stay there, just wanted to query that point of your discussion.

    You say earlier in the article that feeling like a victim is not an essential element to being one, yet in your last comment you say I am only a victim if I mind the photo being there. Two very different statements on the same thing.

    What an amazing dicussion this campaign has created between so many people today!! I think it’s great to get people talking about what they are passionate about.

  9. Lance Wiggs says:

    A comment from Anya via email

    hey lance

    tried to post this as a comment but your blog wouldn’t allow

    i always thought that nzgirl was not aimed at teenagers but aimed at the mid twenties market. I mean why else would all your content be written by girls of that age group, and obviously targeted at people with that level of disposable income?

    or ya know because that’s who the site is designed for full stop

    “About nzgirl

    So you’ve stumbled across nzgirl, but who and what exactly are we, you may be asking?

    Targeting 20 and 30 something females*, nzgirl is a market leader in the online space in New Zealand. Launched eleven years ago, we continue to inspire and inform the women of New Zealand with our unique blend of fashion, beauty, entertainment, food, technology, health and wellbeing commentary and critique…”

    the site has reiterated many times that it started as a site for the tween – teen market but aged as its base of fans aged, the younger market is now taken by 247girl

  10. Juha says:

    Out of curiosity, how does NZGirl verify the age of women in the pictures?

    For that matter, how does NZGirl verify that the pictures in question have been posted by the person whose breasts it is?

  11. sue says:

    well if you ask nzgirl a question, you’ll be visiting their website
    and today apparently their campaign is successful becuase of all the visits last night.

  12. Stef says:

    Think before you pink, American-based NGO, came up with a list of 5 critical Questions to Ask Before You Buy Pink. They should be compulsory for anyone trying to run a breast cancer ‘promotion.’

    1. How much money from your purchase actually goes toward breast cancer? Is the amount clearly stated on the package?

    2. What is the maximum amount that will be donated?

    3. How are the funds being raised?

    4. To what breast cancer organization does the money go, and what types of programs does it support?

    5. What is the company doing to assure that its products are not actually contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

    Clearly NZGirl failed on #4 and that’s before you get into the decision about the ‘stunt’ which undoubtedly drove traffic to the site but I’m picking a whole bunch of it wasn’t from the target audience.

  13. Dylan says:

    I’ve got mixed feelings about this… On the whole “be proud of your boobs” aspect of their campaign – good on them. The association with breast cancer is a little more questionable – I think that people fundraising for the cause in the past have always tried very hard to make it about the person, not the breasts.

    I think they’d have been better to have made it just a love your boobs campaign rather than the cancer fundrasier too.

    As for the rest – that’s the shit nature of the internet really. What goes online gets stolen. The vast majority of people are posting their breasts without indentifying themselves, so the actual real-world ramifications of that are negligible. There’s nothing porn-y about any of what I’ve seen on NZGirl’s site, in my opinion anyway.

    Does NZGirl verify age, consent or ownership? Well aside from age which they seem to have neglected to limit, the rest is enforced in the same way as most things online – you tick a box or whatever to say it’s yours and you are allowed to share it. They can’t really be expected to do much more than that in the context.

    I think your claim of “not safe” is a little OTT Lance – no one, young girls or not, will be harmed by seeing boobs. And no site visitors are going to have images of their breasts somehow magically put online. Perhaps people should think a little longer before putting these pictures online, but in the end there’s no serious harm here, with the possible exception of some copyright infringement by pornographers.

  14. siideways says:

    Juha – in response to “For that matter, how does NZGirl verify that the pictures in question have been posted by the person whose breasts it is?”
    They don’t. I tineye searched a pic from the site – results: http://www.tineye.com/search/82c2f6068cfd0e5878fd252aa90fed558f267fa2

    I tweeted @ “nzgirlHQ” with no response so far…

  15. Juha says:

    Dylan, I think what siideways says clearly shows that Lance is quite right to say NZGirl isn’t safe. It’s not over the top in the slightest, if you think about it.

  16. Dylan says:

    All Siideways’ post proves is that some people, shockingly, are lying when they upload a photo and agree that it’s their photo and of them.

    It doesn’t make it unsafe in any way. It’s no different to the fact that Flickr doesn’t ensure that you’re uploading photos you own, nor does YouTube ensure that the videos you upload are actually yours.

    NZGirl should be making uploaders affirm that they are over 16 or 18 or whatever is relevant.

    Putting any picture on the internet exposes you to the risk of copyright infringement. A picture of your boobs is no different. Not unsafe, but perhaps something people should consider.

  17. nessie says:

    Oh please… there are far more “titilating” images (pun intended) on the net out there for the dodgy sorts who are trolling for boobies, than the ones you’ll find on nzgirl. Mine are up there and I see it as a celebration of femininity, of breast feeding, and of breast health and awareness. if some person gets his kicks out of my anonymous boobs online, he’s probably of the same ilk as the man who pressed up against me on the train the other day with a hard-on. There are creeps out there and I don’t doubt dodgy sites will take advantage of the pics. but whatever. I’m anonymous in that pic and that’s what I decided (as a mature, 28 year old woman) to do. Don’t call me a victim for my decision.

    You’ve concluded several times in your comments that the site is aimed at teens, simply because there is ‘girl’ in the title. By that token, I’m going to go out there and say with utmost certainty (no real research conducted) that that your site is aimed at people who wear wigs. What the hell am I doing on here then? Safe to say I’m not in your target market, nor will I be returning to read your future posts. Should you care about that? No. And I doubt nzgirl cares about whether or not you visited or blogged about their site. I doubt you’ll be back to read up on their next riveting post about their favourite beautician to get eyelash extensions from. But thanks for stopping by to get your boobie fix.

    Any regular NZGirl reader knows that the site is aimed at 20-30 something women – women who are savvy enough to know the difference between gratuitous porn and breast cancer awareness. They also know that the “favourites” and “facebook likes” mechanics on the site are not in relation to ranking or rating boobs, but simply an overall theme and sit across EVERY post, which you may have noticed revolves around “our favourite things”.

    All this talk of my beautiful breasts as “porn” makes me think you probably also snickered at an anatomy book as a 14 year old boy.

    • Lance Wiggs says:

      Latest demos for NZGirl from NetRatings

      80.4% female 10% 19 or under 30% 24 or under

      20% students, 16% tertiary 35% professional 62% don’t have children at home (the rest do, and so the user _could_ be the child on the family computer)

      every 14 year old boy snickered at anatomy books – at least in the past. These days the snickering is done much earlier, courtesy of the internet.

  18. @Nessie – I definitely don’t think that breasts are porn. Breasts are beautiful parts of our amazing bodies.
    What is so sad is that the images that have been uploaded to nzgirl have been turned in to pornography. So while I totally understand that nzgirl and all those women who have uploaded images of their breasts to nzgirl were doing so with no thought if ‘porn’ in mind, those images are now featuring on numerous porn sites.

  19. Mark Lincoln says:

    For me it’s all about the people that actually submitted their images.

    If people knew that their uploaded photos could end up on porn sites and they still uploaded anyway, then fair enough.

    But what about the people that weren’t aware their images could be taken and used elsewhere? Believe it or not there are plenty of people in NZ that are very innocent when it comes to the Internet. Knowing that know, would they still have uploaded their images? If so, fair enough. But surely there are those that would have appreciated the extra warning first? And yeah the age limit would at least suggest NZ Girl were taking the precautions.

    Having said this, NZ Girl are absolutely not alone with this campaign. Hasn’t The Rock just done something very similar whereby people uploaded photos of their breasts in order to win plastic surgery? At least NZ Girl are doing this in support of charity.

  20. Mark Lincoln says:

    Man if I were Lance Wiggs I’d sooo fix the typos in my comment nudge nudge wink wink ;)

  21. katemcgahan says:

    I think I can speak for most when I say it took lot of courage and thought for every single girl who has posted a picture so far, to do so.

    Are you all forgetting that New Zealand girls have brains, intelligence and conviction?

    We all know the repercussions of posting pictures on the internet and that we have no control of what the pictures will be used for and where they end up. this would have crossed all of our minds before hand

    But we still chose to do it anyway.

    Making MY contribution, in a way that I feel resonates with ME is far more important to me than if some guy ends up getting his happy ending from looking at my photo.

    I’m proud that I did something for a good cause this week – and perhaps all of those who made negative comments and dedicated hours to blogging and twittering could have spent all this time they have spent being negative about the campaign, doing something to make a positive difference in the world.

  22. nessie says:

    I went topless on a beach in Italy for all sorts of boys and grown men to see. so did about 90 per cent of the other women. If someone took a picture of me on the beach and posted it online, that’s their perogative. It’s a risk I knowingly took, albeit in a culture that’s far less frigid about nudity than our own.

    Posting my topless photo online was once again a risk I knowingly took. If soneone’s young daughter is stupid enough to post a photo online without thinking anyone else could see it or use it elsewhere, then she shouldn’t be anywhere near a computer or any technology at all without supervision. She’s probably also the same silly girl who sent a topless photo to her 15 year old boyfriend’s cell phone and didn’t think he’d send it to all his mates – like the phone I confiscated from one of my students in class last week. It’s called educating your child about these things. And nzgirls are educated enough to know what they’re doing when they submit a photo of their boobs.

    And if they’re not educated, they’re probably the same ones who scroll past terms and conditions anyway.

  23. Mark Lincoln says:

    Good on ya then Kate. You knew the risks and did it anyway. And yes New Zealand girls have brains and intelligence but I can think of a few teenage girls that would do this for fun and also to support the charity and not even think for a second that their images might end up elsewhere. Those specific girls I know are highly intelligent and wonderful people but are simply not savvy with the Internet public posting of content.

    If I was their parents, I would have really wanted NZ Girl to have posted some clear precautions and stated the risks prior to allowing people to post. I’d imagine if I had a daughter who did that with great intentions and then I found that her photos were on porn sites, whether she was ok with it or not, I’d be pretty sad about it.

    By the way, having not gone through this process myself, I fully admit that I have no idea as to whether NZ Girl posted precautions and warnings or not! My apologies if they did. My only impression of what they stated is through reading all of the above great comments.

  24. Dylan says:

    It is unfortunate that the images have been taken and used elsewhere – and perhaps NZGirl should have made the possible consequences of uploading more clear to contributors, but I doubt they had considered the possibility.

    They should set a minimum age in the terms (18 I imagine), and should also advise people of the potential ramifications of uploading an identifying image.

    I still don’t see the “not safe” aspect of any of this. I’d hope that the NZGirl staff do what they can to remove any photos that don’t comply with their terms, and also they should request they be removed from any sites that have taken them without permission.

    Of course it’s possibly complicated by they fact they aren’t making any copyright claim on the photos that are uploaded, meaning they can’t act to have them removed from other sites.

  25. Mark Lincoln says:

    “they should request they be removed from any sites that have taken them without permission.

    Of course it’s possibly complicated by they fact they aren’t making any copyright claim on the photos that are uploaded, meaning they can’t act to have them removed from other sites.”

    That’s exactly right and another part of the problem. Photo sharing sites like Flickr clearly state usage restrictions. It’s too late now for NZ Girl to request these images be taken down from other sites (and there are heaps! Did you see the link that one commenter posted to the TinEye website? Far out).

    3 News recently used my friend’s video of the Christchurch earthquake in part of their broadcast and also posted it on their own website with all their branding all over it. In defense, they simply said “The video was posted to YouTube and made available for the public. That gives us the right to use it however we like”.

  26. Dylan says:

    The TinEye link would tend to suggest it was the other way around, that the photo was actually swiped from elsewhere to be posted on the NZGirl site.

    Which makes it even more complicated, even if they did have a copyright claim to enforce, they can’t be sure that the content on their site is actually original content that the uploader has a legitimate right to assign those rights.

    The same is true, of course, of YouTube, Flickr and just about every other site with user generated content. But then none of those sites claim any copyright over their user content either, so they don’t make any effort to enforce it.

    Regardless of stated usage terms on NZGirl’s site however, any unauthorised (by the copyright holder) use of those images is an infringement – copyright is automatic and assumed. But only the copyright holder, or an authorised agent, can make claims on that content – meaning the owners of every photo that’s been ripped off would technically be required to make individual claims on each infringement.

  27. Louisa says:

    Interesting comments and sound arguments from both sides.

    My blog on why we put our pic up.

    http://bellybeyond.blogspot.com/

  28. Pingback: NZGirl wants us to do their job for them « Ideologically Impure

  29. harry; says:

    The focus on the legal and moral aspects has received good discussion here. But is this controversy really about legal and/or moral problems?
    I see the NZ Girl promotion as a female gendered variant of the annual Movember cancer fundraiser. The Movember images are proof of a duration of male ‘abstinence': from the body ritual of shaving which centers on water. Shaving is more than body grooming, it is also a form of daily purification. This clearly differs from the NZ Girl promotional images in which women’s bodies are displayed ‘proudly’. Such ‘celebratory’ images are licentious rather than abstemious in their nature – particularly because the bodies are without the noble bearing of a face.

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