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Revenge Porn: How To Prevent It From Happening to You

revenge-porn-picture-mailA disturbing trend in the internet age is the prevalence of revenge porn. In cases of revenge porn, a person’s private, sexually explicit photos or videos are distributed online without their consent. This can have devastating consequences for the victim, including psychological distress and a tarnished reputation. Read on to learn more about revenge porn, and how to protect yourself from it.

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What is Revenge Porn?

Revenge porn is defined by the U.S. government as “the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress.” In addition to the photos and videos, the perpetrator often shares personal information about the victim, such as contact information or a home address. In addition to causing psychological damage, the person’s safety may be compromised if their personal information is shared.

Revenge porn most commonly happens after a sexual relationship ends. One partner then posts intimate photos or videos online as an act of revenge. This is where the term “revenge porn” comes from. However, in many places perpetrators can be prosecuted without the revenge component. It is enough if they released the content without the other person’s consent with the intent to harm them.

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How Common is It?

CCRI-logoRevenge porn is unfortunately more common than many people think. A 2017 study by Cyber Civil Rights Initiative discovered that 1 in 8 American social media users have been targets of revenge porn. The study recruited 3,044 individuals, and 8% had been victims of nonconsensual porn victimization (NCP) at some point. About 5.2% of participants admitted to perpetrating NCP. The study also found that women were 1.7 times as likely to be victims than men.

A 2016 study by the Data & Society Research Institute found that approximately 10 million Americans were either victims of NCP or were threatened by it. The research also indicated that young women, minorities, and those who identify as LGBTQ are most likely to be victims of revenge porn. In fact, DMCA.com, which provides internet protection services, states that 95% of the cases they see are women and teenage girls.

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What can I do About It?

If you are a victim of revenge porn, there are laws that can help you. Many countries have passed legislation making revenge porn a crime. In the UK, revenge porn is illegal and can result in jail time. Many other European countries such as Germany, France, and Denmark also have national laws against revenge porn. The US does not have a national law, though 38 states have legislation targeting revenge porn. Some other countries that criminalize revenge porn include Israel, Japan, and the Philippines.

In general, revenge porn is illegal, though the laws are new in many places. If you are a target of revenge porn, the first thing you should do is research your national or state laws. You need to find out what legislation has been passed and how to proceed. Once you are clear on the laws, you can speak with local law enforcement. Alternately, you can speak with a lawyer to get advice on how to proceed. If you live in the United States, another option is calling the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative crisis hotline if you need help or advice.

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How to Remove the Content

Even though local authorities can help prosecute revenge porn perpetrators, they are often unable to actually take the photos down. Removing the content is generally another issue you need to address.

To begin, conduct an online search and locate as many copies of the content as you can. Try to determine where it first appeared and remove it from that site first, then move onto the other sites. It’s important to conduct these steps without delay, because the longer the content is posted, the more likely it is to be copied to other websites and social networks.

To remove the image, you need to report it to the platform it’s on. This includes all social media networks: Google, Reddit, Snapchat, and Tumblr. Make sure to remain calm when you make the request and simply state the facts. A helpful resource to guide you through the removal process is the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative’s Online Removal Guide.

If you choose, you can also hire a lawyer or a takedown service to help you with the removal process. If you decide to use a takedown service, research it carefully to determine what actions they will take and how much they charge. Whether you hire a service or conduct the process yourself, make sure to take action as quickly as possible.

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How to Prevent Revenge Porn From Happening to You

There are a number of steps you can take to prevent revenge porn from happening to you. Here are some of the most effective things you can do:

Never Share Intimate Photos

One of the best ways to protect yourself is to never share intimate photos with anyone. Even if you trust the person, there is still a risk they will post the photos online without your consent. The truth is that a partner or friend is usually the perpetrator of revenge porn. If anyone takes an intimate photo of you, ask them to delete it, and make sure they actually do. Finally, never post any intimate photos of yourself online.

Avoid Taking Explicit Photos of Yourself

For maximum protection against revenge porn, don’t take explicit pictures of yourself at all. If you wouldn’t want family, friends, or employers seeing the photo, it’s best not to take it. Even if you aren’t intending to share the photos, they can still end up in the wrong hands. Data breaches are common these days, and hackers can steal people’s private photos and distribute them. This most frequently happens to celebrities, but it could happen to anyone. Also, keep in mind that any device with a camera can be connected to the internet.

Alter Your Photos to Protect Your Identity

If you choose to take intimate photos of yourself, alter them to conceal your identity. It’s best not to include your face, or to blur your face so no one can recognize you. It’s best to blur the background as well. Also turn off any geo-tagging options on your devices. There are many applications that can help you protect your identity, and you should take advantage of them.

Talk To Your Children About the Risks of Sexting

If you have children, it’s important to talk to them about the risks of sharing intimate photos of themselves. While this might be an uncomfortable topic, your children need to understand the dangers involved. They should be aware that the photos they share can be used without their consent.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Be mindful of your surroundings, especially if you are at a club, party, or public event. Some of these events have photographers present, and any picture they take could end up online. Keep away from these photographers if you don’t want that to happen. Above all, don’t let anyone photograph you in a compromising position.

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Final Thoughts

Revenge porn is a dangerous trend that has become increasingly widespread in recent years. It can happen to anyone, but the most common victims are young women. Even though there is legislation against revenge porn, it is still developing and does not exist everywhere. And even when perpetrators are prosecuted, the victim’s psychological distress may endure for years.

Not taking intimate photos of yourself is by far the best way defense against revenge porn. By taking some basic precautions, you can greatly decrease the chances of revenge porn happening to you.