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Removing a minor’s photo from an adult website

I was once asked to help get the photograph of a minor (a child under the age of 18 years) removed from an ‘adult website.’ This was a rather serious problem because the minor didn’t know his photo was posted on the site.

Identifying details in the following story have been changed to protect privacy.

The actual photo was innocent enough in appearance, but the photo had to come down. There was a chance that someone he knew would recognize him on the site and that this could lead to a lot of pain for him. He hadn’t consented to having his photo posted. That, plus he was a minor.

I thought about the problem for a little bit and then called in the experts. I called my IT guy, to be exact. I suspected that it’s almost impossible to be an IT professional and not know a fair bit about how adult websites work.

Jason, the IT professional who helps me in my private practice, told me that adult websites are highly motivated to not have photos of minors posted on their sites. He said the site’s webmaster would be willing to remove the photo once they knew they had underage material posted because they want to avoid entanglements with the law.

I thanked Jason for his help and then went on-line to find a phone number for the website. I looked at the home page of the website. There were several active links located at the bottom of the home page, written in very tiny letters. I hit the link I thought would most likely contain contact information for the webmaster and started reading.

I called the phone number that I found and spoke with the receptionist. I explained that I was aware there was a photo of a minor on the company’s website and that it needed to be taken down. I was transferred to a highly cooperative manager named Kate.

I repeated my story to Kate. She asked me for the email address of the person that had posted the photo, which I was able to give her. I stayed on the phone while she removed the photo. All in all, it took me about 15 minutes to get the photo taken down.

I hope the content of this blog post will help someone else that needs to protect a minor – or themselves. Go ahead and call the website. There’s a reasonable chance that the company will be cooperative and take the photo down for you.

Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta 

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