She made one mistake of not listening to her parents as a teenager, and the consequence has been haunting her for four years now.
Angie Varona does not really need an elaborate introduction, considering the number of times her name has been searched for on the Internet. Varona is now 18, and a victim of the harmful side of the digital age.
Angie Varona was just 14 years old when she had made the mistake of uploading her pictures on a photo-sharing Web site Photobucket.com. This was in the year 2007. To her horror, her private photo account got hacked and in no time, her photos were leaked and spread all over the Internet. She certainly did not call for attention, but now it is unavoidable for the teenager who had to stop going to school and do home schooling.
Varona said that her likeness had shown up on porn sites, humor sites, message boards and even on advertisements, according to ABC news. The 18-year-old's unauthorized pictures are also being circulated and available on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, all claiming to be Varona. One Facebook fan page even has more than 41,000 likes.
A Google search of the key word Angie Varona gets the user 608000 original search results that includes 63000 photos that are tagged with her name, says the report. Varona said a lot of those pictures were not hers and were either remakes or other women pretending to be her. They Photoshopped one of my bikini pictures, she said. I have the original and everything. They Photoshopped the top off.
It has been four year since the photos were leaked and she thought the online frenzy would stop. But to her horror, it has only worsened.
Varona has been undergoing this trauma ever since her pictures were leaked, and she, in an attempt to spread awareness about the dangers of photo hacking, decided to speak to a publication Miami Montage, which is put together by high-school journalism students at a University in Miami. Later, she told her story to Nightline.
The pictures that Varona uploaded four years ago were meant to be seen only by her then boyfriend. There were no nude pictures. Although she admitted that she was wearing scanty clothes, yet her clothes were not very different from what any other teenager would wear.
When you are at the beach and you are wearing a bikini, I don't know how you are supposed to not expose yourself, said Varona. When I go out, I dress like every other girl. I dress with clothes that show, I guess, off my body in a way, but I don't do it on purpose ... Because I am larger on top it just looks more provocative, but it shouldn't stop me from wearing it.
Her one decision of putting up the pictures on the Web site has made her life nothing less than a living hell. People wish to exploit me and I guess stalk me in a way...they want every picture that has ever been taken of me, she said.
When you're 14, you don't realize that the things you do really do matter at that point, she told Nightline anchor Terry Moran in an television interview. No one ever thinks that, 'yeah, I'm going to take these pictures and it's going to end up all over the Internet.' You just do it for yourself.
Soon after the pictures started spreading online, Varona informed her parents who were dumbfounded upon getting to know this. Her father Juan Varona was certainly disappointed at his daughter, but angrier at the people who were spreading the pictures.
At first you look at it and it's on a porn site and it's horrible, he said. Then you look at it and say, 'It's a bathing suit picture,' I would rather have her not put it up, but it's a bathing suit picture. None of her pictures are any worse than you would see in Victoria Secret.
The family called the police and hired a lawyer to take her pictures off the Internet. All their attempts were in vain since the photos were not classified as child pornography, but child erotica. Thus the family is left with no choice but to sit back and watch and bear with all that is happening.
Varonica had to bear up with her high school classmates calling her a slut and a porn star. But that is not it. She has also received numerous threats, which she said became so severe that her family had to contact the FBI.
[People] telling me that I deserve everything that's going to come for me, that they're going to rape me when they see me because I want it and because I ask for it, said Varona. Someone found out my address and everything... threatening me, saying that they know where I live, she said.
Varona said that she regretted posting her photos online. She was worried that this incident and the bad reputation were going to haunt her all her life.
She was certainly no different from any other teenager who wants to socialize with her peers on Facebook, and hangout with her friends in malls. But after this incident, she could not go to public places, as people stare at her and it was impossible for her to be a part of the social networking site without being bullied or badly spoken about, she said. Varona said she was struggling to lead a normal life.
For a current generation which does not hold back and think for a second before serving their private life on a platter in front of the public, this could probably be a lesson to learn from. Varona said she wanted people to learn from her story and not make the mistakes she did. I don't want this to ever happen to anyone else, she said. Even after everything that's happened to me, I would never wish it on anyone else.
After all that has happened and is still happening, some people even think that she planned to have her photos leaked because she wanted attention, which Varona denied, said the report.
They think I did this on purpose to get the fame and the popularity, she said. But in fact, the truth is I want to be either a lawyer or a vet.
It is disturbing to see how teenagers get themselves into trouble, largely to be blamed on the side effect of the tech-age. It takes seconds to spread and share photos for fun, which might be leaving a permanent scar on the victim's life.
Varona's revelations came just a few days after a video of 14-year-old Amber Cole had gone viral on the Internet, creating controversies.