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Selfies and Physical Violence

International update.

Selfies are an innocent way to share content on social media. They also represent a potential risk to the user. In this article, we are reviewing cases from around the world, where selfies led to a crime.

In February 2020, a Japanese man called Hibiki Sato was found guilty in the Tokyo District Court of attacking Ena Matsuoka, a member of the J-pop group Tenshi Tsukinukeni Yomi. Presiding Judge Goichi Nishino considered that the “obscene attacks [against the victim] were relatively minor” and therefore a sentence of 30 months in jail was appropriate.

Sato, the stalker, was able to locate Matsuoka’s home from the reflections in her pupils from a selfie she uploaded to her Instagram account. Sato zoomed in on the photo and found a reflection of a sign which he managed to identify as a bus stop in the surrounding scenery from the reflection in Matsuoka’s eye. Sato then matched it to a street using Google Maps.

Sato physically attacked Matsuoka outside her Tokyo home in September 2019. In June 2020, Matsuoka announced on Twitter her retirement from the entertainment industry, and in August 2020 her account was deleted.

In Australia, stalking is a crime under the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007. This offence includes:

  • following a person

  • watching or frequenting the vicinity of, or an approach to, a person’s place of residence, business or work or any place that person frequents for any social or leisure activity

  • contacting or approaching a person using the internet or any technological means

In July 2020, a Ashqaq Ali Shaik was arrested for stalking a woman on social media in Hyderabad, India. According to the police, Ashwaq Ali Shaik was a neighbour of the victim and added her on social media. After chatting online for a while, they met face to face and he proposed marriage to her, but she turned him down. After the woman rejected Shaik's marriage proposal, it was reported that Shaik started threatening the victim with the selfies which they had taken together earlier in the relationship.

If you think you are a victim of a stalker, you should:

  • make a record of the incident including any documentation or evidence of your alleged stalker; and

  • be sure to inform people you know that you are being stalked and ask them not to give out any information about you to other people.

As technology develops, devices are getting more sophisticated and as in Matsuoka’s case, an innocent selfie can be used maliciously or viciously, resulting in physical harm. We must therefore be more aware of our surroundings and take care about what we post online.

By Mercedes Astorga

© ISMA - 2020

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