A Facebook page set up to name and shame Rotorua shoplifters with personal photos has been set up and taken down - but not without hundreds of Rotorua people seeing it first.
The page called Rotorua Shoplifters encouraged the city's shop owners and managers who had caught people stealing to send the details to the page's administrator. The administrator would then name and shame the alleged shoplifter with a photograph of them.
An internet safety spokesman has labelled the page a gossip page which could breach human rights.
Within four hours of going online it had attracted more than 310 "likes". But its reach would have extended to friends of those who liked and commented on the page. Posts of people the page claimed were thieves had attracted many comments, even from those being named and shamed. At least one of those people accused admitted to shoplifting when she saw her photo but defended herself by saying it happened when she was a primary school student - and she was now in her 20s. Another woman labelled a shoplifter denied the accusation.
According to the "about" section of the page it claimed it was created to help Rotorua retailers identify shoplifters who had been caught stealing from various Rotorua and Bay of Plenty shops.
The page warned "Don't STEAL if you don't want to be NAMED and SHAMED".
McLeod's Booksellers manager Fraser Newman said while he would support better communication between police and retailers about shoplifters, he wouldn't support such a Facebook page. He said it could attract abuse.
Netsafe chief technical officer Sean Lyons said the page could breach a person's rights to privacy and freedom of speech.
He said anyone who was accused of shoplifting but hadn't actually been convicted would have had their human rights breached.
"It is a fine line."
Mr Lyons said the fact that people's personal Facebook photos were used rather than security footage made it seem like nothing more than a Facebook gossip page.
He said when police released information about wanted members of the public or shops printed security footage of alleged thieves, there was usually strong evidence against them.