Miss N.J.: Blackmail threats were ‘nasty’ tactics

Miss New Jersey,  Amy Polumbo, spoke about the dangers of photographs on the Internet.
By Jess Hoogendoorn

Facebook is not as private as some students may think, said Amy Polumbo, winner of the 2007 Miss New Jersey crown. She reminded students of the consequences associated with online postings during her lecture entitled, “Your Electronic Image,” which took place in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Polumbo was blackmailed two weeks after being crowned Miss New Jersey. According to her, the blackmailer was someone she considered a friend because he or she had access to Polumbo’s private Facebook account. The blackmailer accessed pictures posted on Polumbo’s Facebook and added “nasty” captions to the photos. In order to undermine the blackmailer and keep him or her from sending the pictures to her sponsors, Polumbo said she had to make the pictures public.
“Again, it’s still very embarrassing to see these pictures up on the screen,” said Polumbo. “It’s not because I think these pictures are horrible, because I’m certainly not doing anything illegal. I’m fully clothed in all these photographs and I’m not even drunk in these pictures, but they certainly don’t represent a young woman.”

Miss New Jersey told students to be aware of what they post online and what others are posting about them. She explained that when it comes to the Internet, “privacy is an illusion.” Polumbo gave students a list of three rules to follow when dealing with the Internet.

First, she said students should never post things that they do not want others to see because the Internet “is like a billboard.” Second, Polumbo warned students to be careful of whom they trust and allow into their private groups.

The final rule was that students should keep track of what others are posting about them.

“Think twice about it and really put yourself outside the box,” said Polumbo. “Think, OK, this is OK between my friends and I, but what if someone is looking at this, if it’s a professor, or someone that wants to hire me at a job.”

Polumbo said she wants others to learn from her experience. She encourages college students to go through their networking sites and delete anything that could be used negatively against them.

“The bottom line is that the Internet is forever,” said Polumbo. “So when your college years are over and done, the Internet, whatever you post on there, whether you delete it or not, will be on there. Just keep that in mind.”

Polumbo also said that her experience is not unique.

“It’s not just my own [experience]; it’s something that has happened to people all over the country in every type of profession,” said Polumbo.

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