VANCOUVER – A Vancouver woman has won her fight to get compromising photographs of herself removed from the website thedirty.com.
The woman originally sent the photos to a boyfriend who posted them online when he became an ex-boyfriend.
She said nothing could prepare her for the moment she discovered the two very private photos posted on the web.
“I was mortified,” said Anisa Salmi. “Just horrified, I didn’t know links like this existed and it was just, I felt violated.”
Salmi had sent her partner of one-year a couple of nude selfies but about one month after their break-up she said he uploaded the images to The Dirty.
“They’re my private photos that I shared with one person, that’s why I knew that he’s done it, he’s the only one who had the privilege of seeing them,” she said.
On top of that, the recent UBC grad is looking for work as an occupational therapist and the comments attached to her photo put all that in jeopardy.
“They state that I would be a horrible professional, that I disclose my client’s personal information, that I make fun of my clients, that I call them derogatory names,” said Salmi. “It also said that I am an escort, that I have HIV, that I steal, that I lie.”
Salmi approached the police but was told no crime had been committed because she willingly shared the photos.
“I think I live in a country that protects, that I have human rights, and the police made me feel like I have no rights,” she said. “They made me feel like this is not a crime, they made me feel like this is my fault and the only reason I went to the police is because I’m being an emotional woman.”
“They told me I shared those photos willingly so it’s my fault it happened. I think that’s completely untrue. I shared those photos with this person privately and willingly, but I did not give him consent to share them with the world. I never told him he could do that.”
So she spent $2,000 hiring a company to go after The Dirty and erase and links to her name and image. This was after she had contacted Google, the website thedirty.com and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) saying those were her photos. In the end the photos were removed under the DMCA but the post still existed until she paid the company to remove them.
“I’m just disappointed in that I had to advocate so hard for myself when I know there’s been a crime that’s committed against me,” said Salmi.
“I think it’s outrageous that in this country my rights were not protected and no action was taken against this crime.”
Internet experts say the laws are not keeping up with technology, allowing tabloid websites to flourish.
“These types of websites thrive on that,” said Wanda Cassidy, SFU Centre for Education, Law and Society director. “So of course they don’t want to take down those images unless they’re forced to do so.”
Salmi still worries the photos could resurface in the future and is speaking out so other women don’t feel alone or at fault.
“This experience made me stronger,” said Salmi. “The person who did this to me wanted to put me down and he wanted to silence me and he wanted to make me feel ashamed of myself, and I want to let him know that I’m not ashamed and will not be silent and thank you for making me stronger and smarter and more resourceful.”
– With files from Tanya Beja
Anisa Salmi joins Aaron McArthur on Global News BC1 show Prime to talk about the story: