ANOTHER RESOURCE FOR ‘REVENGE PORN’ VICTIMS

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Revenge porn isn’t just about embarrassment. Victims can suffer from decreased employment opportunities, economic harm, stalking and threats of physical violence, according to the California Attorney General’s Office, which has a new online presence against it.

Formally known as cyber exploitation, revenge porn is the non-consensual publication or dissemination of explicit photos online. Ninety percent of victims are women, according to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a Florida nonprofit dedicated to combating online abuse.

The online resource center launched by the AG’s office offers information for both victims and law enforcement, including a list of computer-related sex crimes, state laws regulating cyber exploitation and federal laws governing extortion, stalking and unauthorized computer access.

It also provides Internet users with a list of links to the image-removal policies of social networking sites such as Snapchat, Flickr and MySpace. 

A “best practices” guide— produced by the Attorney General’s Cyber Exploitation Task Force with assistance from Facebook Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Pinterest Inc., Twitter Inc. and Yahoo! Inc.— details ways for social media sites and other online service providers to combat revenge porn.

For instance, the guide recommends developing:

  • clear, apparent terms of service that prohibit the distribution of non-consensual, intimate images;
  • easily accessible consumer tools to report abuse or to request removal of an image; and
  • campaigns to educate the public and increase awareness of the issue.

Negative impacts of revenge porn are real. Ninety-three percent of revenge porn victims surveyed suffered significant emotional distress, 51 percent had suicidal thoughts, and 49 percent had been stalked or harassed online, according to an Initiative study.

Meanwhile, the California online effort is the latest fortification in the legal fight against revenge porn. Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have laws that make revenge porn a crime, with California being the first to pass such a law two years ago. A federal revenge porn bill, in development, is expected to be introduced soon in Congress.