by Philippa Lees, 9 News November 22 2011

Police are investigating a Facebook craze that originated in Queensland encouraging teenagers to post pictures of themsleves nude on the internet.

The Queensland teenagers behind the new Facebook craze “Sneaky Hat” and contributors to the website could face child pornography charges, a cyber safety expert says.

The craze involves young people posting naked pictures of themselves with a hat covering their genitals and/or breasts, and has spawned similar social media pages, websites and Youtube videos.

The original page was started by 15-year-old students from Dalby, Queensland “for a laugh” but quickly attracted about 100 photos of their friends in the “Sneaky Hat” pose — and more than 10,000 followers.

“We just thought it was funny, but after a while it started like getting wild, out of control,” the Sneaky Hat website’s founder told ninemsn.

“There were all these people who were posting naked pictures and stuff.”

“My mum saw it, she knew and just thought it was funny.”

Police have now requested the images and Youtube videos created by the students.

Cyber safety expert Susan McLean, formerly of the Victoria Police cyber safety project, said the page was infamous around the world and that “any pedophile worth his salt” would be saving the pictures for their own purposes.

“I would question the brain matter of these parents,” McLean said. “That it is just for fun or between friends is the biggest load of crap I have ever heard.”

“This is a form of child pornography and they need to realise that the law applies to teenagers just as much as anyone else.

“And aside from that, the people posting these photos better decide quick smart whether they want that picture around when they go for a job interview because it will be around forever.”

Victoria Police set a precedent in October this year when they pressed charges against two men, aged 24 and 21, who created a Facebook page for rating sexual encounters with girls as young as 13.

Ms McLean said similar Facebook pictures of Australian children and teenagers had already been found in the possession of child pornography manufacturers worldwide.

 

Education Queensland regional director Greg Dickman said the school attended by the students had taken immediate action to have the pages removed.

“Ultimately, parents are responsible for the supervision of their children outside school hours and they have an important role to play in monitoring their children’s behaviour on the internet.”

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