Rioting broke out in the southern Swedish city of Gothenburg today over an Instagram account that posted photos of local underage boys and girls alongside sexualized captions. Hundreds of students descended on a high school in Gothenburg, where it was thought the individual behind the account attended, resulting in a large (by Swedish standards anyway) police deployment to break up the crowd. When police arrived, students threw bottles and rocks. According to reports on Facebook, the students had gathered at the school to beat up a girl thought to be behind the account.
What began as an apparently isolated incident at the high school, Plusgymnasiet, quickly spread around the city as angry teens left the school and headed to the city’s center. In total, 27 teens have been taken into custody. The school will be closed tomorrow after a Facebook page was posted encouraging students to continue to attack it.
The fracas began after a request for photos of "sluts" generated hundreds of photo submissions. The instagram user, whose account has been suspended, posted the photos alongside lewd comments, setting off a firestorm among local teens. The account posted about 200 photos since its launch Monday and described the subjects of the photos as "sluts" and "whores" and also included information about their alleged sexual activities. Some of those whose photos were included were as young as 13.
This isn’t the first time this year that a firestorm of criticism has erupted over non-consensual photos of teens posted on the internet. Reddit, the popular link aggregator, was forced to shut down a section of its website called "jailbait," which was devoted to user-submitted photos of sexualized teens. The ensuing debate over privacy on the internet became crystallized in the controversial online persona of Violentacrez, who started the jailbait section. Gawker outed the man behind the account as Michael Brutsch, a 49-year-old software programmer.
The news out of Gothenburg comes on the heels of an announcement by Instagram that they are overhauling their user agreement to allow the service to use users’ photos for commercial purposes without their consent. My guess is they probably won’t be using these photos.