8 Ways To Fight Back Against Revenge Porn, Because It Can Happen To Anyone

A picture taken on April 17, 2015 in Paris shows the keyboard of a laptop computer. AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images

One of the most pressing questions for modern women is also one of the most disheartening: Are there ways to fight back against revenge porn? Once a photo is published online, it's notoriously difficult to remove, and this is doubly true when the pictures are sexual in nature. This is the Internet, after all, and if there's anything the Internet loves as much as cats, it's simultaneously begging women for nudes and punishing them for taking them. Victims of revenge porn are frequently told that the solution is "simply" never to take a nude photo, but this places blame squarely on the victims, rather than on the creeps publishing photos without the subject's consent. It's hardly logical to blame them for trusting their partners not to betray them, especially in light of the fact that sexting is an increasingly popular aspect of modern relationships. 

Although the practice of uploading nude photos online without the subject's consent sounds incredibly illegal, the disturbing reality is that lawmakers have struggled to keep up with technology's ever-evolving nature. As a result, revenge porn is explicitly illegal in just 21 states, forcing many victims have to come up with increasingly creative ways to fight back. The most common practice is to copyright the images in question, which allows victims of revenge porn to claim copyright infringement and have the photos removed. However, there is a downside to this method: The U.S. Copyright Office requires applicants to provide a copy of the material they want to copyright. In other words, they have to show their nude photos to more people in order to have them removed from the Internet.

Fortunately, lawmakers are finally starting to make a difference. Bills banning nonconsensual photography, as it's known legally, have been passed in 21 states, and companies like PornHub, Microsoft, and Google have modified policies to curb the practice in recent months. Revenge porn kingpins like Kevin Bollaert are increasingly facing consequences for potentially devastating their victims' lives. Perhaps most importantly, politicians have introduced a federal nonconsensual photography bill, which would provide an overarching, national definition of what constitutes revenge porn.

Although resources for revenge porn victims are few and far between, they are slowly increasing in number. It's not ideal, but it's a start. Let's take a look at eight ways to fight back below:

1. Save the Evidence

As tempting as it may be to follow Ron Swanson's suit, you're going to have to provide evidence of where you found images if you want them taken down. One law group's website advises taking screenshots of the webpages and printing them out, or downloading and saving any videos.  

2. Report the Violations

Earlier this year, Microsoft and Google announced that they would fight back against revenge porn by allowing users to request certain images' removal from their search engines. This doesn't take the photos offline completely, but it does prevent explicit photos from being the first thing that pops up when you search your name. Microsoft's form is here, and contact Google here

3. File a Police Report

Even if the police tell you they can't do anything  and chances are they will  you'll at least have an official record of the event. 

4. Set Up a Google Alert 

If you know nude material is online and connected to your name, activists recommend setting up a Google alert so you're aware when the photos or video make their way onto a new website. 

5. Check Out Resources for Victims

Without My Consent and the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative provide victims with counseling and materials to help fight the distribution of revenge porn. 

6. If Possible, Find a Lawyer

End Revenge Porn has a list of attorneys who are specifically willing to aid victims of revenge porn. 

7. Look Up Local and Federal Laws

As mentioned above, state laws may or may not be helpful, but it's hugely important to know what your legal options are. 

8. File a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Takedown Request

Women Against Revenge Porn recommends filing a DMCA, which informs website owners that you own the copyright to your photo and wish for it to be taken down. If they don't remove it quickly enough, you can file for copyright infringement.

Unfortunately, removing revenge porn is an arduous, difficult process, and there's no guarantee that any of these methods will be totally successful. However, it's best to stay informed while we wait for federal and state laws catch up to technology. 

Images: Giphy (5)

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