In a time when social media advertising is the hottest buzzword around it's disconcerting to find that one of the largest brands of feminine hygiene products is being used by a pervert in order to gain young women's trust on MSN, to ask intimate questions about their periods and sex life, for nude images of the girls, and in one case even for a meeting with one of the girls.
Libresse has gone out with a press release last week, to warn young women to not engage with anyone claiming to be from Libresse on MSN, they've contacted all the school nurses in the country with the same warning, and today they have followed up with a large ad in the morning papers. "Warning directed to young women" the ad is headlined, and the body copy explains that anyone who has experienced this should contact the police first, and Libresse. It's more likely that the parents will be reading the press ad, but Libresse aren't done yet.
The police are conducting an investigation into these cases; "We have a very good IT forensic team, computers are taken in and we can find things in them" and when probed about the difficulty of arresting a digital harasser Peter Bodenfall reveals: "Well, in one case he had arranged a meeting with one of the girls, which makes an arrest that much easier." Due to investigation being ongoing, he can not reveal more, nor how exactly this man grooms the victims.
Mimmi Lagergren at Libresse finds it "rather interesting" that the current commenting tide is turning against the young women, with the usual anonymous sarcasm quipping about the naivete of anyone who might "fall" for this kind of thing. You can see examples of this at Resumé.
"From what the young girls have told us, this is very cleverly done. He is very believable, very slick. This is why we've reached out with the warning to schools, in press releases and now in advertising. Don't blame the victims."
When I asked the police if Libresse could file a report, since it's their brand name, Peter Bodenfall responded: "There are reports filed by the women who have been victimized, and we see Libresse as a victim as well. They might not be able to file the same kind of report, but imagine if they hadn't gone out with a national press release about what they know now. The tide would have turned against them."
In the end, Libresse aren't just protecting their own name from being dragged in the mud, they're protecting young women, or rather young girls in junior high schools, from a perverted pedophile on MSN. In any other case of a slick con-man luring 12-year olds out for a rendezvous, would the anonymous commenters of the intarwebs still be blaming the victims? Or is that sort of bile reserved for girls only?