Reddit Bans Nude Images Without Subjects' Consent & It's The First Of Many Much-Needed Steps

After years of turning a blind eye, Reddit won't let users upload nude images or any images depicting sex acts without the consent of the subjects. Believe it or not, there is still very little legal protection for those who have leaked nude photos online. Only a few states have passed anti-"revenge porn" laws, but they remain ineffective, since third-party sites are not held accountable for their users.

The new addition to Reddit's privacy policy states:

Reddit is committed to your privacy. If you believe that someone has submitted, without your permission, to reddit a link to a photograph, video, or digital image of you in a state of nudity or engaged in any act of sexual conduct, please contact us (contact@reddit.com), and we will expedite its removal as quickly as possible. Reddit prohibits the posting of such content without consent.

Alexis Ohanian, Reddit's co-founder and executive chairman, spoke about the new policy in an interview with The New York Times:

I really want to believe that as we enter the next 10 years of Reddit life, essentially the most trafficked media site on the Internet, the opportunity here to set a standard for respecting the privacy of our users.

Many of the images leaked on Reddit during last year's celebrity nude photo scandal constituted child pornography, and only then did the site take action. Reddit still only has five rules, and the only pertaining to sexual content is as follows: "No child pornography or sexually suggestive content featuring minors." It's critical to protect minors, but it is equally important to protect all people whose privacy is violated.

This privacy policy update is welcomed, but Reddit will have serious issues enforcing this policy: right now, there is no screening policy for when users upload images. No proof of consent is required before posting a explicit photo. The new policy really only applies if an individual reports images they might find of themselves. Basically, there's no easy, effective way for anyone to search and protect themselves.

Amy Sussman/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Defending Reddit as a forum for free speech, former CEO, Yishan Wong wrote in a blog post:

... We uphold the ideal of free speech on reddit as much as possible not because we are legally bound to, but because we believe that you – the user – has the right to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, and that it is your responsibility to do so.

Not everyone is going to be responsible, and we need to talk about how to fix that. This new policy is certainly a step in the right direction. But Reddit needs to take additional action to ensure that anyone depicted in an objectionable photo has given his or her expressed consent — if not, it's sexual exploitation. It's time for Reddit to call it what it is, and address the real problem of protecting those who can't protect themselves.

Image: Getty Images (1)