On 31st May 2014, a Sunday Mirror journalist set up a Twitter account. For the profile pic, he used a Swedish model’s, Malin Sahlén. He did not ask her permission. Men who pretend to be women online rarely do.
[As I discovered later, the journalist, Alex Wickham, did not work directly for the Sunday Mirror when he posed as Sophie Wittams: Alex Wickham works for the Guido Fawkes political blog.]
Last year Markus Frind, founder of the world’s biggest dating site “Plenty of Fish” , shut down the PoF’s casual sex section because though 3.3 million people in the UK were using it daily to find a casual hookup, only 6,041 of those users were “women” – and most of those, the site had worked out, were actually men. Frind told users
the “Intimate Encounters” section “can be summed up as a bunch of horny men talking to a bunch of horny men pretending to be women.”
The Sunday Mirror journalist used the name “Sophie Wittams” and described himself as a “twenty-something Tory PR girl”. He used the Twitter account to compliment and flirt with Tory politicians. Jim Waterson on Buzzfeed outlines the process and published two of the photos that the Sunday Mirror journalist had used – the journalist had found a snapshot posted on Twitter as a #sunbathingselfie by Charlene Tyler, and sent it to Brooks Newmark pretending he was the woman in the picture.
Jim Waterson didn’t ask the permission of the women whose photos he published on Buzzfeed, either.