Fighting Revenge Porn Just Got Easier

Apr 24, 2017

Do you remember your first love? Your parents may have said you had “puppy love” and you may have even passed a “love note” in class. If you were caught, your teacher probably read the note aloud – and no doubt you were embarrassed but the note would be soon forgotten from your classmates. With today’s use of smartphones, the way kids communicate with their first love has definitely changed. Rather than a young girl passing a love note in class, she now sends an intimate picture of herself to her boyfriend, the “love of her life.”

The sexting scenario above is all too common today and when an image is shared beyond the young couple, there can be severe emotional and legal consequences for anyone in possession of the intimate image. I became very aware of the consequences of teen sexting gone bad when my step-son was in high school. A young girl, let’s call her Anna, and her boyfriend, we’ll call him Steve, are high school sweethearts. Anna voluntarily begins sending sexting images to her boyfriend, Steve. Anna’s family moves to another state. Anna meets someone in her new state and the couple break-up. Steve is sad, hurt, and angry so he shares her sexting image with his fellow Lacrosse teammates. Those teammates send to 10 friends and then those 10 friends send to 10 friends and so on.

Within a few months, that image is on the devices of practically every high school student, not just in that school, but in the neighboring high schools in other districts. My step-son was not Steve, not on the Lacrosse team, and didn’t even have Steve as a contact or friend in his social media platforms but he was sent the image from a friend of a friend. My step-son made the mistake of posting on a group forum and a few weeks later we had a detective from a child sex crime unit requesting permission to talk to my step-son.

My step-son, as well as anyone who also posted or shared the image, was looking at potentially being charged with a felony for trafficking child pornography. My step-son happened to be a minor at the time and the image was so widely distributed within the different school districts in the area that the District Attorney’s office ended up not prosecuting anyone. Anna’s family dropped their complaint when they were informed that the first person who would be charged would be Anna because even though it was her image, she would be subjected to the same penalty as everyone else for sharing a pornographic image of a minor over the internet.

Legal Consequences of Revenge Porn

It’s easy to see how a private image, that may have been an expression of infatuation or love, can quickly turn into a nightmare for everyone involved when intimate images become very public. No matter how old the person sharing the images and video is, sharing a sexually explicit photograph of a minor with another person may violate child pornography laws of your state and punishment can include felony penalties, as well as being registered as a sex offender. As a parent, I was clueless of the legal consequences of sexting and revenge porn. To find out the laws of your state on sexting and revenge porn, click here.

Who Participates in Revenge Porn

The term “revenge porn” is often used in the news, but a more accurate description may be the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent, also known as non-consensual pornography. Digital images can easily be shared beyond the intended recipient and many of the sharers may not be doing it out of revenge, as much as just passing the image along to their base of friends. Revenge porn affects more people than most parents are aware and “not my child” is the normal parental response, but the statistics tell a very different story: One in 25 Americans are victims of revenge porn. The vast majority of the offenders are ex-boyfriends, but others also participate, according to a study by Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.

RevengeStats

Removing an Intimate Image Just Got Easier on Facebook

Facebook recently partnered with several safety organizations to help make it easier to remove intimate photos from being shared without their consent and provide support resources for revenge porn victims. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, wrote on his Facebook page that sharing intimate photos online as a means of shaming an individual is “wrong, it’s hurtful, and if you report it to us, we will now use AI and image recognition to prevent it from being shared across all of our platforms.”

How to Remove Revenge Porn on Facebook

  1. Users can report revenge porn images that were shared without a user’s permission, by using the “report” link that appears next to a post.
  2. A Facebook community operations representative will review the image and have it removed if the image violates Facebook’s community standards.
  3. Once a revenge porn image is reported and removed, Facebook’s new artificial intelligence photo-matching tool also prevents that same image from being posted on Facebook Messenger and Instagram.
  4. Facebook has also partnered with several organizations (National Network to End Domestic Violence, Center for Social Research and the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative) to offer resources to support victims whose image was posted without their consent.

What About Removing Intimate Images on Twitter?

Although Twitter does not have artificial intelligence tool, in 2015 Twitter did add to their user policy “you may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject’s consent.” If you locate a tweet that contains a sexually graphic image that was posted without consent, Twitter does have a process to report the violation so the image can be hidden from view.

How to Remove Revenge Porn on Twitter

  1. Find Tweet with unauthorized image
  2. Tap the downward arrow icon located at the top of the Tweet on mobile devices, if you’re on a desktop computer, click the more icon.
  3. Select “Report”
  4. Click “It’s abusive or harmful.” Provide additional information about the image in the tweet, make it clear that you did not consent to have this image posted.
  5. Select “Includes an unauthorized photo of me”
  6. Twitter will send a message if they need additional information and confirmation once action is taken.

Removing Images from Photo Sharing Platforms Like Instagram & Flickr

Most photo-sharing platforms like Instagram and Flickr have options in place for the removal of unauthorized images.

How to Remove Revenge Porn Image on Instagram
Anyone who is signed into the Instagram app can see an image posted on a public profile. If you locate an image that was posted without your authorization, you can file a report with Instagram. Instagram will remove a photo that you report as unauthorized, if the content contains you, your child under 13, or another person you’re the legal guardian for.

To report a photo:

  1. Tap (iPhone and Windows Phone) or (Android) above the photo in question.
  2. Click the Report Inappropriate link.
  3. Follow additional prompts or directions provided by Instagram.

How to Remove Revenge Porn Images on Flickr

Flickr has a zero-tolerance policy towards sharing sexualized content of another person without that person’s consent (Non-Consensual Pornography). To report an intimate image that was posted without the subject’s consent, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Flickr website on your computer (not on your mobile device).
  2. At the bottom of the page that contains the photo or video, click Report abuse.
  3. Select Intimate content posted without my consent.
  4. Enter your email address.
  5. In the "What's the problem?" field, let them know that you appear in an intimate image or video without your consent, and provide any additional details that may assist in their investigation. Please include your full name.
  6. Enter the word "flickr" in the security field.
  7. Click SEND.

Increase of Revenge Porn in Underage Teens and Children

Today, more than ever, it is extremely important to discuss privacy and self-respect with your children and teens. If your child is in her tween or teens and you’ve not discussed sexting and what is appropriate to share, you need to have that conversation now. As a first defense, arm your child with information that may help them pause before they act; let them know they can talk to you if they feel pressured to sext and the potential legal consequences of having or sending a sexually explicit photo.

If someone you love is a victim of revenge porn, it is important to understand that they need your support. While there is plenty of victim blaming, both online and in print, try and be as supportive as possible at home. Install Net Nanny parental controls on your family devices, so when inappropriate language or searches are detected, parents will receive a warning so they can have an age-appropriate discussion.