SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- When people post a Facebook profile picture, it's their way of introducing and representing themselves to the online community.
When one local business owner posted a profile picture a short while ago, she had no idea it would be taken and posted in a closed "men's only" Facebook group.
The woman claims the Facebook user that posted her picture is local, but she said the closed group is international and the post about her garnered lewd and demeaning comments.
"It wasn’t meant to be alluring for males. It was meant to show that I was a boss babe," said Crystal Vazquez.
Local makeup artist and boutique owner Crystal Vazquez posted her new professional headshot with pride, making it her Facebook profile picture.
"I had just lost a significant amount of weight and I’m a mother of three. I felt empowered. You can have tattoos and piercings, you can be who you are, and still be respected in the community," Vazquez explained.
However, respected is the last thing Vazquez felt when friends told her that picture had been posted in a closed men's group on Facebook, meaning you must be approved to join by a page administrator.
"She said well he’s posting your profile photo and making sexually derogatory comments about you. I realized at that time that it was the spouse to one of my customers. My instant reaction was to change my profile photo and blame myself," Vazquez explained.
Vazquez said the photo that brought her pride was subject to comment from men across the globe, even reaching one user in England.
"If this is happening to me and this person is pretty much a stranger to me, it could happen to anybody," Vazquez said.
Western Mass News spoke with Stan Prager of GoGeeks Tech Repair. He said the post likely violates Facebook's terms of service and merits a report to the company. However, he said your Facebook profile picture "is the one that you cannot make private, so don’t use a picture that you don’t want anyone to steal."
Vazquez added, "I don’t know where else it is and so it's a humiliation that I maybe will never get away from."
Vazquez chose not to name the person who posted her picture in the group and the group name itself. She said it's out of fear of further victimization, both for herself and other women on Facebook.
"He posted it, he didn’t post it under a fake profile, he used his real profile," Vazquez noted.
She said she wants the whole community to know how the post ruined a picture she used to find empowering.
"It showed who I was as a professional...By him sharing this in such a dirty way, it kind of just took all of that meaning behind the picture away from it," Vazquez said.
Vazquez told us she made contact with a member of the closed Facebook group in England, who commented on her picture. He told her the pictures are posted at a rate of "loads per hour."