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What are Revenge Porn Sites and What’s Being Done to Them?

Written by David Jones on May 31, 2017

Despite its usefulness in terms of connecting people around the world, the social media has been taken advantaged by people with illicit motives. An example is the proliferation of these so-called revenge porn sites.

Many may still not be aware of such sites but they have been used in spreading pornographic images of people without their consent. They are also termed as nonconsensual pornography (NCP) which refers to the distribution of sexually graphic images of people without their knowledge and consent. The goal here of the perpetrator spreading such images can either be to blackmail the subject to force the person to continue their relationship, to punish the individual for ending the relationship or to perform sex acts.

It was in 2008 when complaints started over these revenge porn sites and more websites of the same kind were created. Two years after in 2010, the site “IsAnyoneUp” of Hunter Moore began to get the attention of international media. By 2015, Google and Microsoft took action by removing links to revenge porn sites upon request and posted online forms for victims to complete.

Meanwhile, a revenge porn site based in the U.S. has even demanded money from innocent victims in the U.K. if they want to take down their explicit photos. The website has been asking for $50 for each picture to be removed from the site. The owners of the site have refused to remove the photos despite being approached by police and told they were subjected of criminal proceedings in the U.K.

In the U.S., 37 states including the capital DC have already implemented revenge porn laws. Other regions such as Asia as well as Australia and Canada have followed suit. Governments are on the right track in implementing new laws against these porn sites, said San Diego criminal defense attorney Vikas Bajaj. Criminals don’t have any place in society and those who victimize innocent people particularly young girls and women need to face the appropriate penalties.

Australia Passes Anti-Revenge Porn Laws

New South Wales in Australia has also introduced new laws to address the revenge porn issue. The new legislations cover photos and videos of an individual’s private parts or a person engaging in a sexual or explicit act including undressing and showering. Those found sharing or threatening to share such images without permission will be penalized up to $11,000 and sent to jail for three years. In addition, courts will be given new powers such as to order offenders to destroy revenge porn and prevent images and videos from being republished. The Attorney-General stressed an additional two-year jail term and $5,500 fine will be imposed in the event the offender fails to take down the photos and videos.

On the national level, Australia has expanded the role of the eSafety commissioner and introduced a new complaints system in line with this current problem related to revenge porn. Among the new powers given to the eSafety commissioner are to investigate complaints, seek civil penalties through the federal court, issue formal warnings and take down notices, chase higher penalties for repeat offenders and extend penalties to people who participate in or have knowledge of the sharing of revenge porn. Social media sites will be given 48 hours only to take down offending images.

Facebook Takes Action

Top social networking site has also taken action last month in response to these nonconsensual porn. This was after a scandal broke out involving the Marines United secret Facebook group of some 30,000 servicemen who reportedly shared women’s private image without permission.

To address this alarming issue, Facebook released new guidelines on how it will act on nonconsensual porn. Facebook users will need to report to the administrators when they see a revenge porn pop up in their newsfeed. A team will then vet the image and utilize photo-matching technology to stop the image from spreading further. This procedure will also work across Facebook Messenger and Instagram.

Firm and consistent action is vital in putting a stop to this revenge porn moving forward. Governments and the general public need to remain vigilant.