“Heaven hath no rage like love to hatred turned”
What is Revenge Porn?
Revenge porn, also known as non-consensual pornography, is the distribution of one or more sexually explicit photos of someone else, without the subject’s permission.
The photo may be one that the victim took herself and naively shared with the eventual poster, a photo taken by someone else (usually an ex-boyfriend or lover), or an image taken from the victim’s computer or device by a hacker. The victims are overwhelmingly female, and the damage done to their reputations and psyches can be enormous.
Revenge porn is a product of the internet age we currently live in, complete with immediate access to smart phones and other mobile devices. Revenge porn is essentially the posting of sexual photos of an ex-lover online as an act of vengeance after the relationship goes sour. These photos, typically taken during the course of the relationship, are exchanged via mobile devices or taken exclusively by the person posting the photos. Photos of this nature are often published with personal information about the victim attached to the photo. 80% of revenge porn victims took the photographs themselves.
What are the possible outcomes of those shared images?
They might get leaked worldwide.
They might get used in pornographic videos.
They may destroy one’s reputation and social life.
Over the last decade, websites have emerged which make money from these shots. Women are primarily the victims of these websites though some men are also targets. These photos do more than just humiliate the victim, but have the potential to affect every aspect of the person’s life, including their work and family.
Revenge porn has unfortunately become an easy way for ex-lovers to humiliate their former lover in the most shameless of manners. Many couples exchange sexual photos of one another during the course of a relationship that are meant to be for “their eyes only.” Unfortunately, these couples do not consider the possibility of a future break-up. Because most relationships eventually do end prior to death, this means those people are not playing the odds. The other partner often reassures them that they will keep the photos secure and will never show them to anyone. However, stories have emerged over the last few years assuring us that break-ups never go as smoothly as we think they will, and one partner often hotly turns to the internet to display their anger.
The Act that protects you against harassment or bullying online or in the real world and allows for protection orders to be issued is the Protection from Harassment Act from 2013.
In terms of the Act, harassment includes:
- directly of indirectly
- engaging in conduct
- that the alleged perpetrator ( bully) knows or ought to know
- causes mental, psychological, physical, financial or emotional harm to the complainant (victim) or inspires the reasonable belief that such harm may be caused.
This means if someone is causing harm in ways mentioned above, you can get a protection order against that person, and it goes for online bullying or bullying in real life.
How to prevent having compromising photos of you published online
- Never ever have or take any pictures of yourself busy undressing, semi-nude or nude – period. Note: Digital content is dangerous content. Your pics could have been stored in an i Cloud moments after you took them. Ad although you have deleted them immediately, they are still in your i Cloud – which can be hacked. (Remember Jennifer Lawrence from the Hunger games?)Also your phone can be stolen, and your nude can be screenshot and forwarded to the rest of the world. This is a business for some sic individuals – they steals phones to use the content for extortion.
- If you still are brave / dumb enough (sigh…) to take pictures (or videos) of yourself in the nude (or in various stages of undress) do NOT send them to anyone – period.
- PARENTS (guardians, uncles, aunts and grandparents) talk to your children and pre-teens, about the dangers of taking these types of pictures. If you take pics of yourself if you are under 18 years old, you can be charged with creating child pornography. If you send it to someone, you can land an additional charge for the distribution of child pornography.
- If someone takes an intimate, private, personal picture (or video) of you ask them to delete it immediately . Make sure you see that it has been deleted.
- If the picture(s) (or videos) was taken by a professional make certain you own the copyright – no exceptions. (This is still a dumb idea.)
- Make sure you own / have the original memory card the photos (or videos) were taken on – or see they are deleted.
- If someone has compromising pictures or video of you be firm in your request for them to delete it. Let them know you are serious about your privacy and security. Do not be intimidated. Get help if you need it. Parents, School, Police anyone with authority. In most countries the owning and distributing pictures or video of anyone “underage” is illegal.
- Do not post or upload intimate, personal pictures or videos onto any website – period. This includes all social media and dating sites. Unless you want to share that picture or video with everyone on the internet – including your friends, family, employer and church.
- Don’t be conned into taking ‘pretty’ pictures for a photographer who promises to make you a star. Check the credentials of anyone you are getting into a professional arrangement with and do not sign away your rights to your images. Have a professional negotiate a contract for you. We had many girls who fell into this trap and were now being blackmailed for their pictures.
What to do when you find compromising pictures of you published online?
- Don’t Panic. Respond quickly. Faster the better. Be confident. Get help
- Contact the authorities (POLICE) – especially if you or the person in the picture or video were underage and especially if the perpetrator of this crime is known to you and you never gave permission for the pictures to be shared. To see which types f charges you can lay: https://www.mobieg.co.za/articles/cyber-bullying/
- Find as many copies and versions as you can. You are the best person to identify this content. Often it will be cropped or altered in some way so often you can identify it the quickest. Make a list. Like a weed if you can get at the source you can stop it from spreading. Often only one website was the source of the uploaded picture or video. It is important to get it removed from there and move on to the other sites, if there are any.
- Begin Processing take-downs immediately, the faster the better. Staying on top of getting your content taken down means you can stop or slow the spread. You can conduct -yourself use a lawyer or use a service like: DMCA.com Professional Takedown Service.
- In South Africa you can contact the Digital Law company for assistance. https://www.thedigitallawco.com/
Don’t let the shame factor prevent you from seeking help. The moral problem ultimately lies not with you, but with the scumbag that breaks your trust and distributes them.
Avoiding Criminal Charges from Online Behavior
The crime of harassment (which can include stalking, hate crimes, and cyberbullying) occurs when one person acts in a way designed to annoy, provoke, threaten, or otherwise cause another person emotional distress. Harassment therefore also occurs where a person uses an electronic device such as a phone or computer to communicate threats, sometimes anonymously.
Rule Number 1 – Be Nice
One of the best ways to avoid criminal charges is also the most obvious. Be nice. Do not say anything online that you would not say in front of your parents.
Rule Number 2 – Check IDs
Studies show that many teens are unaware that naked photos of people under the age of 18 are considered child pornography. Child pornography laws are tough and carry harsh penalties. Even if the teen depicted took and sent the photo, and even if the person who received the photo is also under the age of 18, it is still child pornography. No matter what your age, do not request, take, or look at nude photos of people under age 18.
Note: also do not engage in any sexually explicit talk (or texting, messaging, or chatting) with anyone under the age of 18. Sexually propositioning a child (or even a person posing as a child under the age of 18) is a crime – child enticement – and like child pornography it carries serious penalties.
Rule Number 3 – Don’t Share
When it comes to nude photos, inappropriate remarks, or anything else that you think could offend, the best rule to follow is this: do not share. Sharing photos or images of a person without their permission may also be considered invasion of privacy, which can be a crime.
If you are a victim of revenge porn, you may chat to an online facilitator for more help on LIVE CHAT. The service is free and you may stay anonymous. We are online Sundays: 18h00-20h00 / Mondays – Thursdays from 19h00-21h00.
You can do a self-test quiz to learn more about cyber bullying.