Instagram has, for a very long time, been a haven of delectable cafe ladies, beauty goddesses, fitness gurus, CEO empresses – all of whom are victimized by the very platform that brought them to their pedestals. The tyrant that destroyed the unicorn dazzling side of social media is none other than V2K, a Telegram group chat trending among sexual predators who exploit women everywhere.
No matter the presence on Instagram, one’s pictures can be circulated without consent. Never send explicit photos (not even to friends or partners) because they could be the very people part of the V2K community, profiting off of “sex-hungry” adolescents and depraved perverts. From sharing “nude content” and child pornography to editing inappropriate photos and sending screenshots of personal information, many have complained that they have received unpleasant online catcalls from strangers.
V2K is a local Telegram private group chat that is dedicated to the distribution of non-consensual images and videos. The aforementioned content would be acquired from various sources, including many social media accounts.
But why Telegram? Easy – they want security. The application has always been recognized for its absolute confidentiality, because they protect one’s messages from hackers. On top of that, Telegram enables the creation of “secret chats” which has the feature of self-destructing messages: the messages you send can disappear if needed. Telegram is safe on many levels yet some individuals still choose to exploit it. No wonder Telegram has faced controversy for enabling the distribution of inappropriate materials online.
The issue of this Telegram group first surfaced when one woman was informed that her group pictures of them attending an event was online. Soon after this, several other victims have come forward to express similar concerns. They were all alerted by a friend. That was when they found out that people they actually knew in real life were V2K members.
But that’s not all of it. Some of the members in the group chat would ask for personal details about the women in the pictures. These would include their Instagram profiles, name, address, phone number, etc. Due to this, the victims would receive calls and harrassment from unknown numbers that wanted a favour. For “exclusive content” (e.g. pornographic videos of a minor), the owners of the content would charge a subscription fee to 240GB’s worth of data for a certain period of time.
Altogether, their pictures would be flooded with horrendous, explicit comments. On many occasions, some of the content would go viral among the members, thus garnering more unwanted attention from outsiders. On that note, an Instagram account was recently created under this Telegram group, to showcase some of the unconsenting images from that group chat. No matter how many times it was reported, Instagram failed to take it down. The same goes for the group chat, which still exists on Telegram, and is easily accessed via Google search.
Meanwhile, many in the group chat would attempt to exercise caution. To access the videos, they would advise each other to depend on burner accounts (temporary accounts that are fake and cannot be traced back to the owner) for the sake of anonymity. In case of future deletion, backup accounts or group chats would be constantly generated. According to a source, members who were identified as women who joined the chat would be promptly kicked out. This also applied to the people who joined with the intention to expose the chat to the public.
In recent developments, the situation has begun to garner national attention as several news outlets have addressed the issue, including SAYS.com and World of Buzz. Non-governmental organisations like StandUp Malaysia and MISI: Solidariti have released press release statements (both dated October 1st) as well, and so did the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). According to MCMC’s statement (dated October 2nd), they have acknowledged that they will be working with PDRM (Royal Malaysian Police) to investigate Telegram. Finally, the All Women’s Action Society in Malaysia has offered to make a joint police report for the affected victims of V2K and similar group chats. It will occur on the 5th of October (11am). Those who are interested to know more may contact them on their Instagram page @awammalaysia or through text at +6 016 2374221.
A petition has been created to shut down the group chat. Feel free to sign it here: http://chng.it/7ghVGzZTjS
This is a list of Malaysian organisations that are aimed to help survivors of sexual assault:
1. WOMEN’S AID ORGANISATION
Operating hours: 24-hour
Hotline: +603 7956 3488
SMS: +6018 988 8058
2. ALL WOMEN’S ACTION SOCIETY (AWAM)
Operating hours: Weekdays (9.30am – 4.30pm)
WhatsApp: +6016-2284221 | +6016-2374221
3. WOMEN’S CENTRE FOR CHANGE PENANG (WCC PENANG)
Contact: +604-2280342 | +604-3988340
WhatsApp: +6011-31084001 | +6016-4390698
4. SARAWAK WOMEN FOR WOMEN SOCIETY (SWWS)
5. SABAH WOMEN’S ACTION-RESOURCE GROUP (SAWO)
Operating hours: Monday to Friday (9am to 2pm)
6. PROTECT AND SAVE THE CHILDREN (PS THE CHILDREN)
Operating hours: Monday to Friday (8.30am to 5.30pm)
Contact: +6016-2273065 | +6016-7213065
By Twis Siew and Natasha Effendy