‘Re­venge porn’ takes toll on mil­lions: Study

Kuwait Times - - NEWS -

It may be a jilted lover look­ing for pay­back af­ter a breakup. Or it could be a hacker re­leas­ing in­ti­mate images of a celebrity. So-called “re­venge porn” - or the post­ing of nude or ex­plicit pic­tures with­out that per­son’s con­sent - af­fects one in 25 Amer­i­cans, ac­cord­ing to a new study. The is­sue gained pub­lic at­ten­tion in 2014 when nude photos of celebri­ties in­clud­ing ac­tress Jen­nifer Lawrence and model Kate Up­ton were posted on­line by a hacker, in the so-called “Cele­b­gate” scan­dal.

Lead study au­thor Amanda Len­hart at the Data & So­ci­ety Re­search In­sti­tute said this was the first na­tional sur­vey on re­venge, or non­con­sen­sual pornog­ra­phy. Two per­cent have had some­one post an ex­plicit photo or video of them on­line with­out their per­mis­sion, and many oth­ers faced such a threat. Taken to­gether, four per­cent were vic­tim­ized by post­ing of images or by threats, which would amount to some 10.4 mil­lion Amer­i­cans, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey.

“Non­con­sen­sual pornog­ra­phy can have a dev­as­tat­ing and last­ing im­pact on vic­tims, so it’s vi­tal that we un­der­stand how com­mon this is and who is af­fected,” Len­hart said. “Even if images are never ac­tu­ally posted pub­li­cally, per­pe­tra­tors may use threats to post such images as a method of con­trol­ling or in­tim­i­dat­ing vic­tims.”

In some cases of re­venge porn, ex­plicit images were stolen from pri­vate on­line or cloud servers, while oth­ers were se­cretly or forcibly pho­tographed or taped. Some images come from jilted ro­man­tic part­ners while oth­ers are stolen by am­a­teur or pro­fes­sional hack­ers. Pub­lic at­ten­tion on re­venge porn in­creased af­ter the Cele­b­gate hack of ac­tresses, mod­els, and ath­letes, many of whom spoke of the emo­tional dis­tress they ex­pe­ri­ence. “Just be­cause I’m a pub­lic fig­ure, just be­cause I’m an ac­tress, does not mean that I asked for this,” Lawrence said in an in­ter­view af­ter the in­ci­dent. “It is not a scan­dal. It is a sex crime. It is a sex­ual vi­o­la­tion.”

The sur­vey found three per­cent of Amer­i­cans have had some­one threaten to post nearly nude or nude photos or videos of them on­line to hurt or em­bar­rass them. Young peo­ple - ages 15-29 - are most likely to re­port be­ing threat­ened. More women than men are im­pacted, with one in 10 women un­der the age of 30 say­ing they ex­pe­ri­enced threats about post­ing such con­tent. Among in­ter­net users who iden­tify as les­bian, gay, or bi­sex­ual, 15 per­cent said some­one threat­ened to share a nude or nearly nude photo or video of them.

“It’s im­por­tant that we rec­og­nize that men are also vic­tims of non­con­sen­sual pornog­ra­phy,” Len­hart said. “Male vic­tims are of­ten in­vis­i­ble - but hope­fully this re­port will chal­lenge us to think dif­fer­ently.” Vic­tims’ ad­vo­cates have called for laws pun­ish­ing per­pe­tra­tors of re­venge porn, but civil lib­er­ties de­fend­ers have ar­gued th­ese mea­sures could vi­o­late free speech pro­tec­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the study, 30 states have passed leg­is­la­tion over the past three years at­tempt­ing to de­fine and crim­i­nal­ize “re­venge porn.” Na­tional leg­is­la­tion has been in­tro­duced in Congress with­out pas­sage.

The re­port was based on a sur­vey of 3,002 Amer­i­can in­ter­net users ages 15 and older, from May 17 to July 31, 2016. The mar­gin of er­ror was es­ti­mated at two per­cent­age points. Len­hart said there are no pre­vi­ous com­pa­ra­ble stud­ies which show a trend, but noted that re­venge porn “has been as­sisted by the de­vel­op­ment of dig­i­tal cam­eras, smart­phones and so­cial me­dia” — AFP

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