• Revenge Porn

Revenge porn is generally known as the act of humiliating an ex by posting their nude or other sexual photos online without their consent, even if the victim gave consent to take the photos during a relationship. Some states have “revenge porn” laws and a perpetrator could get jail time.

Revenge porn usually falls under the umbrella term Nonconsensual Pornography: “(NCP), defined as the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent. This includes both images originally obtained without consent (e.g. by using hidden cameras, hacking phones, or recording sexual assaults) as well as images consensually obtained within the context of an intimate relationship.”1

According to americanbar.org, “victims of revenge porn, the publicizing of one’s sexually explicit images or videos online without consent to cause embarrassment or distress, are 90 percent women.”2

Revenge porn can also be a form of Image-Based Sexual Abuse: “(IBSA) involves three key behaviors: the non-consensual taking or creation of nude or sexual images; the non-consensual sharing or distribution of nude or sexual images; and threats made to distribute nude or sexual images.”3

The sourced articles below should provide you more information on revenge porn and resources on how to report such actions.

  1. Online Abuse 101

    “Cyber-exploitation, Nonconsensual Photography or ‘Revenge Porn’
    The distribution of sexually graphic images without the consent of the subject of the images. The abuser obtains images or videos in the course of a prior relationship, or hacks into the victim’s computer, social media accounts or phone. Women make up more than 95 percent of reported victims. The unauthorized sharing of sexualized images is still not illegal in the majority of US states. Twenty-two states now have laws on the books and proposed national legislation is being drafted. (You can check your state here). is defined as the non-consensual distribution and publication of intimate photos and videos.”

    WMC Speech Project, womensmediacenter.com, accessed on 4/28/2019

  2. Online Removal Guide

    “At Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, we know how traumatic and distressing it can be to find your intimate images online when you didn’t consent to them being shared. We worked with all of the major social media and tech companies to come up with the following document to provide you with a list of how to report this violation on all of their platforms.
    – Things to consider before reporting / what you can expect …
    – Document the post in case you want to take further action. …”

    Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, cybercivilrights.org, accessed on 4/27/2019

  3. 43 States + DC Now Have Revenge Porn Laws

    Link to list of states with “revenge porn” laws

    Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, cybercivilrights.org, accessed on 4/23/2019

  4. FAQs – US Victims: What Is NCP?

    “The term ‘revenge porn,’ though frequently used, is somewhat misleading. Many perpetrators are not motivated by revenge or by any personal feelings toward the victim. A more accurate term is nonconsensual pornography (NCP), defined as the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent. This includes both images originally obtained without consent (e.g. by using hidden cameras, hacking phones, or recording sexual assaults) as well as images consensually obtained within the context of an intimate relationship.”

    Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, cybercivilrights.org, accessed on 4/23/2019

  5. Facebook Promises New AI Tool Will Proactively Detect Revenge Porn

    “Facebook is launching a new AI tool today that it says can proactively detect and flag intimate images and videos of someone posted without their consent. The system will be active on Facebook and Instagram, and, unlike current filters, it can detect ‘near-nude’ content. This content is then flagged and sent to a human moderator for review. Currently, users on Facebook and Instagram have to report such revenge porn themselves. Facebook says it hopes that the new system will better support victims by flagging images and videos for them.”

    James Vincent, theverge.com, 3/15/2019

  6. Who Posts It And Why?

    “Young men between the ages of 18 and 25 are much more likely to be perpetrators of NCP [nonconsensual porn]. Most NCP is committed by those who have received the sexually explicit content in an intimate setting and either published the material themselves or shared it with friends. This sharing of information is often not intended to harm the survivor. Those who engaged in this type of NCP are typically unaware of how much harm can be caused by publishing or sharing intimate information and pictures. Some perpetrators may film an individual without their consent or knowledge and distribute this sexually graphic content of a person without permission. This example of NCP often falls into the category of voyeurism laws, but NCP laws might also apply to this offense as well.”

    UCSB SexInfo, soc.ucsb.edu, 2/13/2019

  7. Kamala Harris’ Crusade Against ‘Revenge Porn’

    “In 2013, she had arrested a 27-year-old San Diego resident named Kevin Bollaert who ran a website called UGotPosted. Its business model was as vicious as it was simple: It solicited nude photos along with the personal details — name, address, Facebook profile — of the people in them. The photos had often been stolen, or taken in secret and posted without consent. … [California Junior Senator, former prosecutor, and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kamala] Harris had scored the country’s first major revenge porn conviction — and it wasn’t lost on advocates that she had done it by whittling down the definition of a protected site.”

    Nancy Scola, politico.com, 2/1/2019

  8. What To Do If You’re A Victim Of Revenge Porn

    “But there’s been less conversation about the specific issue of how to support survivors of revenge porn (also known as nonconsensual porn), the act of posting nude or sexually explicit photos and videos of a person on the Internet without their permission. Revenge porn is a relatively new phenomenon, so it hasn’t been the subject of much research. But it appears to be shockingly common: A 2017 Australian survey suggests that one in five people has had sexually explicit or nude photos and images distributed without their consent.”

    EJ Dickson, allure.com, 1/4/2019

  9. My Ex Threatened Me With Revenge Porn — Here’s How I Stopped Him

    “As explained by Mary Ann Franks, Legislative and Tech Policy Director & Vice-President of the CCRI and a professor of law at the University of Miami School of Law, in their guide for legislators: ‘The disclosure of sexually explicit images without consent and for no legitimate purpose — also known as ‘revenge porn’ — causes immediate, devastating, and in many cases irreversible harm. A vengeful ex-partner, opportunistic hacker, or rapist can upload an explicit image of a victim to a website where thousands of people can view it and hundreds of other websites can share it. In a matter of days, that image can dominate the first several pages of search engine results for the victim’s name, as well as being emailed or otherwise exhibited to the victim’s family, employers, co-workers, and peers. Victims are frequently threatened with sexual assault, stalked, harassed, fired from jobs, and forced to change schools. Some victims have committed suicide.'”

    Arianna Jeret, yourtango.com, 12/8/2018

  10. From Non-Consensual Pornography To Image-Based Sexual Abuse: Charting The Course Of A Problem With Many Names

    Abstract: “Every day, people’s most intimate moments are recorded, uploaded and circulated online without their consent. This gross invasion of privacy – commonly known as ‘revenge pornography’ – has become part of the scenery in cyberspace. But the name ‘revenge pornography’ fails to communicate the scope and severity of this harm. It is a victim blaming term that risks misdirecting government policy and misinforming the public. So, in order to mobilise against ‘revenge porn’, activists have begun renaming it. ‘Non-consensual pornography’, ‘image-based sexual abuse’, and ‘digital rape’ are just a few of their new coinages. This research seeks to understand how ‘revenge pornography’ is being renamed and reframed in different contexts. To do so, it draws on interviews with thirty activists, experts, and scholars from twelve countries and seven professions. The article begins by comparing their alternative terminologies, bringing to light points of similarity and difference. It then looks forward, identifying new developments in activists’ thought and action. Despite their different vocabularies, this research finds among respondents a shared understanding upon which they could build an enduring coalition.”

    Sophie Maddocks, Journal Australian Feminist Studies, Taylor & Francis Ltd, tandfonline.com, 11/1/2018

  11. ‘Upskirting’ And ‘Revenge Porn’: The Need For A Comprehensive Law

    “Whether it involves voyeurism, upskirting, revenge porn or sexual extortion, in all cases the images or videos are sexual, private and intimate. Victims can suffer harassment, and highly sexualised abuse such as rape threats. Like other cases of sexual offending, the harms victims experience include a fundamental breach of their autonomy, trust, sexual integrity and privacy.”

    Erika Rackley, Professor of Law, University of Birmingham, and Clare McGlynn, Professor of Law, Durham University, theconversation.com, 6/15/2018

  12. Gendered Public Support For Criminalizing “Revenge Porn”

    “Many states have criminalized ‘revenge porn,’ an increasingly common form of online sexual abuse. Yet, we know little regarding attitudes toward these laws. Through an original survey of nearly 500 U.S. residents, we find widespread public support for criminalization, but support varies by respondent’s self-identified gender and revenge porn type. Women favor criminalization more than men, but support falls among women and men when the subject created the media, colloquially known as ‘selfies’ or ‘noodz.’ Results suggest that women expressing their sexuality are deemed less deserving of protection, reinforcing feminist legal critiques of criminal law as insufficient to prevent sexual abuse.”

    Sarah Esther Lageson, Suzy McElrath, and Krissinda Ellen Palmer, sagepub.com, 6/5/2018

  13. Revenge Porn: How Tech Lawyers Are Helping Women

    “The victims of revenge porn, the publicizing of one’s sexually explicit images or videos online without consent to cause embarrassment or distress, are 90 percent women. … Revenge porn became an epidemic for various reasons, from difficulties in regulating the deep web to whack-a-mole approaches of taking down illegal pornography. … So what are technology lawyers doing to help protect women from revenge porn and subsequent harassment? By representing their clients, by supporting more effective laws, and by actively educating the public about these legal issues in articles, conferences, and interviews, tech lawyers are helping women.”

    Nova I. Levant, americanbar.org, 5/2/2018

  14. What To Do If You’re A Victim Of Revenge Porn

    “About one in eight Americans on social media find themselves victims of revenge porn, according to a nationwide study conducted by nonprofit online abuse advocacy group the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. Though nonconsensual porn distribution victimizes people of all genders, women are disproportionately affected, and are about 1.7 times as likely to find themselves targeted than men. Despite its prevalence, the laws governing revenge porn are murky, and vary from state to state.”

    Rebecca Fishbein, lifehacker.com, 5/1/2018

  15. An Examination Of Nonconsensual Pornography Websites

    Abstract: “Nonconsensual pornography, sometimes referred to as ‘revenge porn,’ refers to the distribution of sexually explicit photographs or videos without the consent of the individual in the image. These images, along with accompanying personal information, are often disseminated by a former romantic or sexual partner with the intent to harm. Websites exist that have a reputation for hosting and promoting revenge porn. However, it is unclear to what extent these websites function for the purpose of explicitly harming victims by providing a victim’s personal information. To address this question, a content analysis was performed on 134 photographs from seven different websites that originated within the United States. … Key findings were that nearly 92% of victims featured on included websites were women. Moreover, when a reason was given for posting the photo, it was correlated with having a greater number of views, being more likely to allow commenting on photos, and being more likely to include a victim’s name. …”

    Carolyn A Uhl, Katlin J Rhyner, Cheryl A Terrance, and Noël R Lugo, journals.sagepub.com, 2/8/2018

  16. Nonconsensual Image Sharing Isn’t Pornography — It’s Sexual Assault

    “In the rapidly changing digital landscape, people are constantly finding new forums and quicker methods of sharing exploitative images of people to a boundless online audience. Some call it nonconsensual image sharing, some label it image-based sexual assault, and many use the term ‘revenge porn.’ Regardless of the terminology, survivors of this growing form of exploitation share symptoms similar to survivors of physical sexual assault, underscoring the need for more effective strategies to end this abuse. ‘It has all of the raw ingredients of sexual assault or sexual trauma,’ said Jessica Klein, an adjunct lecturer with the MSW@USC, who specializes in trauma treatment with survivors of sexual assault. ‘The unique factor is the level of humiliation and shame is in many ways compounded …. It’s so public; it’s so known to others.'”

    MSW@USC Staff, msw.usc.edu, 1/30/2018

  17. What To Do If You’re The Target Of Revenge Porn

    “Has an intimate image of you been shared without your OK? If so, you’re not alone. Whether a nude picture was taken without your consent, or an image you shared with someone is shared further than you’d intended, many people are affected by revenge porn or non-consensual pornography. If that’s happened to you or someone you know, here are some things to do.
    [1.] Follow the steps in the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative’s Online Removal Guide. …
    [2.] There are laws against revenge porn in 38 states plus the District of Columbia. Check to see if there’s one where you live, …
    [3.] You also could consult with an attorney. …
    [4.] If you’re thinking about hiring a takedown service, make sure you know what you’re getting. …
    [5.] If you experienced non-consensual pornography, need help or advice, and you live in the U.S., call the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative’s crisis hotline: 844-878-CCRI (2274). …
    If you are the victim of non-consensual pornography, take the steps above – and then tell the Federal Trade Commission if a company posts your image without your consent and won’t take it down.”

    Jennifer Leach, Assistant Director, Consumer and Business Education, FTC, ftc.gov, 1/11/2018

  18. Revenge Porn’ Bill Would Criminalize Posting Nude Photos Without Consent Nationwide

    “The practice, known as ‘revenge porn’ or ‘sextortion,’ has been in the spotlight recently due to high-profile cases involving celebrities, such as Mischa Barton and Blac Chyna, but it doesn’t just hurt victims in the public eye. Yet there’s no federal law that protects victims whose private images have been exploited online. What victims are left with is a patchwork of laws across 35 states, and legal hurdles if their perpetrators cross state lines.”

    Sasha Lekach, mashable.com, 11/28/2017

  19. Professor Erwin Chemerinsky And Expert Panelists Support Bipartisan Federal Bill Against Nonconsensual Pornography

    “[Professor Erwin] Chemerinsky [dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law] noted that his support of criminal laws against nonconsensual pornography is ‘one of the rare instances where I’m on the opposite side of the ACLU,’ which has opposed legislation prohibiting nonconsensual pornography on free speech grounds.”

    Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, cybercivilrights.org, 10/6/2017

  20. Guest Post: Youth And LGBTQ Communities Disproportionately Victimized By Revenge Porn And Cyber Crimes

    “The revenge porn community targets a vast pool of victims of every race, gender, and sexual orientation. Statistics from the Data & Society Research Institute and the Center for Innovative Public Health Research indicate that 17% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans have been threatened or victimized by revenge porn. This statistic, compares to the 2% of heterosexual people who are victims of this crime, and proves a statistically significant difference in discrimination regarding sexual orientation. Further, The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative suggests 90% of victims are women, but does not specify whether this is limited to cisgender women.”

    Leah Juliett, a GLAAD Campus Ambassador, glaad.org, 3/30/2017

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Footnotes

1. cybercivilrights.org, 4/23/2019

2. americanbar.org, 5/8/2018

3. sciencedirect.com, 3/2019