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Girls Are Being Slut-Shamed On "Gossip Girl"-Inspired Instagram Pages

In one city, the trend of sharing people's pictures alongside details of their alleged sexual activity got so bad that police were forced to intervene.

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A spate of Gossip Girl-style Instagram pages, in which photos of girls are shared without their consent along with details of their alleged sexual activity, has caused a stir in schools across England – with police in one city being forced to step in.

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The accounts are run by anonymous users, in an echo of the popular American TV drama Gossip Girl.

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The show ran from 2007 to 2012 and followed the lives of an affluent young group of friends in New York City. The anonymous blogger of the title would narrate each episode with details of the characters' sex lives and relationships.

In Doncaster, at least seven schools are currently investigating a series of these accounts, and police are now involved.

The photos on the accounts are mainly of pupils, including some at McAuley Catholic High School, which is believed to have been the first Doncaster school affected.

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Pupils in some schools were warned of the "illegal nature" of such accounts and told that those who create them or comment on the photos could face criminal charges, according to the Doncaster Free Press.

One school said there were "Gossip Girl" accounts "for most if not all of Doncaster secondary schools".

South Yorkshire police told BuzzFeed News that although no formal complaints had been received, they were aware of the accounts and were "working closely" with the schools involved to ensure appropriate steps are taken to protect young people online.

"It's been a nightmare," Natalie, a student who recently left one of the schools, told us. "It really took off earlier this year, and it began when a girl was 'exposed' with a boy. Some of the messages are rumours, some are real. The people who run the account are cowards."

Natalie said a number of Doncaster "Gossip Girl" accounts had been blocked and closed down, and several attempts were made to track the creators by finding their IP addresses.

Another student said she was “very shocked” to see her photo on a “Gossip Girl”-style Instagram account.

"I have no idea who could have sent it in," Emma told BuzzFeed News. "It's annoying as it's not true. The fact it's anonymous may be hilarious if it's not happening to you, but if it is, it can have huge implications."

Slut-shaming young women on social media is hardly a new phenomenon, but anonymous accounts targeting women on Instagram in this style are unusual.

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City-specific Instagram accounts have appeared elsewhere in England, joining the trend of sharing photos of local people against their will, in an attempt to mock and humiliate them.

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The accounts vary in their numbers of followers, but they are widespread: Oxford, London, and Leeds are just some of the places with their own "Gossip Girl" pages.

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Some boast that they will upload photos of local men and women so "people really know who they are".

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A number of them have a lot of followers but few photos, suggesting some images may be reported and deleted, but that the accounts remain active.

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Most accounts stress that those pictured are "real people" and call on followers to send in contributions.

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Most are titled under variations of "sluts", "slags", "fuckboys", and "bitches".

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Many ask users not to report the account to Instagram for violations of its privacy policy.

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BuzzFeed News has asked Instagram for a comment on whether it is aware of these accounts and if it plans to remove them from the site.

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Rossalyn Warren is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Rossalyn Warren at rossalyn.warren@buzzfeed.com.

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