Stop Photoshopping Us Into Porn, Ask Officials

Chinese citizens have been accused of Photoshopping the likeness of business and government officials into pornographic photographs to be used for . Shanghai Daily reported that as of March 18, eight had been arrested in one county in Hunan province:

Eight suspects have been arrested and charged with using modified pornographic photos in an attempt to extort 4.5 million yuan (US$724,050) from government officials, corporate executives and managers, prosecutors in central China’s Hunan Province said yesterday.

Prosecutors in Shuangfeng County said the gang used computer software to modify the photos to make them appear as if the victims were in them, and sent them to their targets. They had received 255,000 yuan before they were captured by police.

The eight suspects, all natives of Shuangfeng, began using such photos to extort money in 2011. They mailed more than 210 letters containing fake pornographic photos in the past two years.

Prosecutors said more than 150 unsent letter were seized. The number and details of the victims were not disclosed.

More recent reports claim as many as 37 have so far been arrested in Shuangfeng county for trying to blackmail officials with doctored pornography. Global Times reports that this practice spreads far beyond Shuangfeng, describes local authorities’ attempts to dissuade such blackmail tactics by posting public slogans on billboards, and encourages officials across the country to follow suit:

“Let’s work together to launch a ‘people’s war’ against blackmailers using Photoshop on sex photos!” is a slogan that can be seen every 50 meters in Shuangfeng, a small county in Hunan Province where police this month arrested 10 people in a ring using fake sex photos to blackmail officials.

The billboards have replaced the “long live Chairman Mao” slogans that plastered cities across China back in the 1950s.

[…]Unfortunately, not all governments are as determined as Shuangfeng in the “people’s war” on fake sex photos, which is why blackmailers have become more brazen in recent years.

[…]If officials across China are serious about nipping the problem of fake sex photos in the bud, they should follow Shuangfeng’s lead and launch similar campaigns to crackdown on cyber blackmailers.

France 24 has more on similar blackmail attempts across the country and local campaigns to dissuade the practice, before noting that, in the wake of recent highly-publisized sex scandals, some are wondering if the public campaigns aren’t a means to guard against coming official impropriety:

Of course, in a country where the authorities themselves make frequent use of Photoshop to alter reality (see examples here and here), such cases are not limited to Shuangfeng. A recent one in eastern Zheijang province made international headlines when a man was arrested after allegedly attempting to blackmail more than 40 government officials with altered pornographic pictures. And in Xing’an County, in southwestern Guangxi province, the local Land and Resources Bureau took an unusual measure to deter troublemakers: they blurred photos of their officials on their website, reportedly to deter blackmailers.

Some online commentators have wondered if this new billboard campaign could have another, more subtle purpose: getting the public to think that all photos of officials involved in apparent are fakes. Indeed, China has been rocked by a series of such scandals, ranging from orgies to sex tapes involving mistresses – no Photoshop involved.

 

March 29, 2013, 1:51 PM
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Categories: Politics, Society