Sexist forum posts hundreds of private images of Australian female journalists and celebrities


Female journalists say they feel “violated” by a sexist forum that has been posting personal images and lewd comments about women in the Australian media industry for more than a decade.

Hundreds of high-profile journalists and emerging reporters have had their images uploaded onto the forum, which also posts suggestive images of Australian actresses, female sports stars and models.

Photos lifted from female journalists’ social media accounts show them exercising and socialising with friends, alongside objectifying comments such as “[it’s] about time they changed the camera angle to show some leg” and “superb tits”.

While most images show women fully clothed, several topless images of one reporter, taken six years ago when she worked as a model, have also been posted on the site.

ABC reporter Lily Mayers said she discovered photos of herself in a bikini on the forum that she’d posted on her private Instagram account while holidaying in Hawaii eight years ago. 

Mayers said the forum was a violation of privacy and had blurred the private lives of journalists with their carefully manicured, professional personas.

“I think it’s kind of tricky not to slut-shame yourself in a way,” she said.

“My first thought was ‘I shouldn’t have posted a photo of myself on the beach, I should have assumed this was going to happen’. But that made me think of consent, what women wear and what people perceive that to mean.”

Journalist Lily Cardis revealed on Twitter that an account connected to the forum had been following more than 1,000 female journalists, producers and hair and makeup artists on social media. 

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She wrote the discovery had been made by her friend Sarah, who uses the Twitter handle @sezz62, who collated the followers of several female journalists into a spreadsheet, discovering they were all followed by the same account.

As a direct result of their efforts, the account has since been blocked by more than 97 journalists, but the uploads haven’t stopped.

Guardian Australia has since identified five additional social media accounts and seven YouTube pages linked to users on the forum. These accounts follow predominantly female journalists and have a small number of followers and relatively few posts.

YouTube pages connected to the forum have also lifted additional videos from women’s social media accounts. One of these accounts boasts almost 25,000 subscribers and has attracted 20 million views since its inception in 2010. 

Channel 10 journalist Antoinette Lattouf
Channel 10 journalist Antoinette Lattouf said the forum reinforced how careful women need to be online. Photograph: Supplied

A senior journalist at Network 10, Antoinette Lattouf, has also spotted several images of herself on the forum, including an Instagram story of her working out in her child’s toy room during the pandemic. 

One particular image shows Lattouf covering the Martin Place terror attack in 2014. But rather than discussing the tragic events that were unfolding, users commented exclusively on her appearance and what she was wearing. 

Lattouf said the forum is another example of how the way a woman looks are “deemed as important if not more important than her skills [and] her intellect”.

“It plays into this 1950s view that women should be seen and not heard and that idea of keeping pretty for a male gaze.”

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The forum itself has a following of more than 81,000 members, some of whom have been posting hourly on different versions of the site since the late 1990s.

While the site began with users posting screenshots of women on television or scanning the pages of magazines, it has accelerated with the rise of social media.

Both journalists said they’ve known about the forum for years but it was only recently that they were alerted to a suspicious account which they believe had been posting their images.

The site’s administrator told Guardian Australia he was from the Czech Republic and was the second administrator to run the forum. He said the site was now in its fourth edition.

A former moderator of the site told Guardian Australia the forum was started to share nude images of actresses and models, but this has been vehemently denied by the site’s administrators.

The former moderator claimed the forum’s “glory days” would see up to 100,000 viewers online at any given time, with 20 moderators controlling the site’s content.

According to one of the four current moderators of the site, the forum was created “to celebrate Australian celebs”.

“We have rules within the site. Any nudity is age-restricted and very minimal. You can’t control what someone posts. People are there for different reasons.” 

Short of blocking the accounts linked to the forum, Mayers feels “frustrated” that the anonymity of its users and the fact the images are now public means their chances of getting them removed are slim.

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Mayers said: “Legally these men may have not done anything wrong. Morally, obviously, it leaves you feeling violated.”

The admin of the forum told Guardian Australia that “anyone who has ever contacted us asking for pictures to be removed has been indulged … I think we are doing more than enough to protect everyone.” 

But for Mayers, the site serves as an example of how women in the public eye are burdened with having to take extra measures just to keep themselves safe and their information private.

She said a handful of her colleagues had been stalked in the past and had been forced to get the police involved.

“Almost every female journalist has a story of being stalked and someone taking it too far.”

As a result of receiving death threats and vicious trolling due to her work, Lattouf said she also makes a conscious effort to ensure that nothing posted is “incriminating and that it will be used against me and my kids”.

“For me it’s unfortunately just reinforcing how careful women need to be. We’ve got to be extra careful on the streets and extra careful online.”





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