Revenge Porn: Scary & What to Do About It?

Involuntary Pornography or Revenge Porn are a form of cyberbullying involving the uploading of non-consent pictures and shaming to the nth degree.

There are “thousands of victims of ‘involuntary pornography’ or ‘revenge porn’—nude or sexual photos posted online without their consent. Revenge porn gets its name because many pictures are posted by former lovers who kept sexual photos after the relationship ended.

http://tinyurl.com/muwc9z9

Men also are victims:

University of Maryland law professor Danielle Citron has studied the issue in depth for her forthcoming book on online harassment, Hate 3.0: A Civil Rights Agenda to Combat Online Harassment. She estimates that 60 to 70 percent of online harassment (including revenge porn) victims are women. And the abuse is often very sexualized—threats of rape, false prostitution ads, calling victims “sluts”—even when the victim is a man.

“When it happens to men, often it happens in ways that [suggest] they are gay. People put up ads that suggest they’re interested in anal rape,” she says. Or, she adds, abusers “turn the abuse around and say [victims are] sexual predators.”

Some comments I’ve seen are very disturbing. For instance:

I dream of wanting to bash her head in with a shovel and sodomize her.

The article is a good read and provides a lot of details about the efforts victims have taken to remove the offensive pictures and shut down the sites, and legal protections.

The law has not been particularly effective. As soon as a site shuts down, several more clones crop up elsewhere. And sites operate with impunity outside of the reach of U.S. jurisdiction. As one commenter posted:

Like a revenge porn guy in another country cares about getting sued.

Freedom of speech offers quite a bit of protections and safe haven. There are exceptions:

The obscenity argument is part of one exception to Section 230, for violations of criminal law. The statute expressly includes obscenity and child pornography. More often, Goldman says, courts permit exceptions for copyright violations.

Goldman believes that exception would apply to involuntary porn sites, but only if the victim owns the copyright to the pictures and the site also ignored DMCA takedown notices. Otherwise, he believes sites would be protected by Section 230 because they are republishing user-submitted content.

And only two states have laws:

California and New Jersey make it illegal to post a sexual photo online without the subject’s consent. Though experts say revenge porn may violate other state statutes, it’s common for police to say no law was broken unless the picture is child porn, of those under 18 when a photo was taken.

The law in California:

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Tuesday outlawing so-called revenge porn, making it a misdemeanor to post identifiable nude pictures online without permission with the intent to cause distress or humiliation. The penalty is up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

http://tinyurl.com/l83j5hb

Not much of a bite.

Web host GoDaddy moved to dismiss an an injunction against hosting Texxxan.com or any similar website.

In a day an era when sexting is commonplace, there are sites that encourage sexting and sites that condemn sexting.

The former, for instance:

Sexting: Naughty Text Ideas to Try Today

Find out how to max out your sext appeal here.

http://tinyurl.com/k4gte6r

And the latter, for instance:

What Is Sexting and Why Is It a Problem?

A joint study by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl suggests that 20% of teens (ages 13-19) and 33% of young adults (ages 20-26) have shared nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves either via text or by posting online. Teen girls are slightly more likely to do this than boys and 11% of the young teen girls (ages 13-16) admitted to sending suggestive photos of themselves.

http://tinyurl.com/khy87fg

Sexting may end tragically, including suicide:

Sexting: Risky Actions and Overreactions

FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

http://tinyurl.com/b2ffn72

As a champion of civil rights and freedom of speech and pretty much the freedom to “do your thing” as long as you do not break the law, how to find a balance between exercising one’s freedom of sexual expression and self-protection (reputation, self-image, emotional well-being, not committing crimes) is the challenge many face.

Criminal implications:

The definition found in the federal child pornography statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2256, refers to illegal images with minors as those involving sexually explicit conduct. Does the picture meet this definition or one in a particular state statute? Additionally, investigators should consider whether the communication might be harassing or menacing to the party in the image or the recipient of it.

Second, did any illegal use of a computer occur in the communication? For instance, a youth involved in viewing, transmitting, or storing inappropriate pictures on school equipment might face legal difficulty for unauthorized use or damages.

Id.

The following advice is posted on the same site:

  • Think about the consequences of taking, sending, or forwarding a sexual picture of yourself or someone else underage. You could get kicked off of sports teams, face humiliation, lose educational opportunities, and even get in trouble with the law.
  • Never take images of yourself that you wouldn’t want everyone—your classmates, your teachers, your family, or your employers—to see.
  • Before hitting send, remember that you cannot control where this image may travel. What you send to a boyfriend or girlfriend easily could end up with their friends, and their friends, and their friends.
  • If you forward a sexual picture of someone underage, you are as responsible for this image as the original sender. You could face child pornography charges, go to jail, and have to register as a sex offender.
  • Report any nude pictures you receive on your cell phone to an adult you trust. Do not delete the message. Instead, get your parents or guardians, teachers, and school counselors involved immediately.

These are good pieces of advice and worth keeping in a handy place. When you consider the sheer prevalence, it is likely that you know someone who has or will engage in sexting.

Roy

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