Revenge Posts: How the Court Can Help You

Revenge Posts: How the Court Can Help You

It’s a sobering fact: One in 25 Americans has been a victim of nonconsensual image sharing, otherwise known as “revenge porn,” according to a study by Data & Society Research Institute and the Center for Innovative Public Health Research. That’s roughly 2% of all Americans who have had someone post a private photo or video without permission.

Revenge porn can refer to many types of image sharing, including but not limited to:

  • Images that were created consensually but with the understanding that they were to be kept private;
  • Nude or nearly nude photos or videos taken without the other person’s consent; and 
  • Secret or forced photography or videography.

Once taken, the photos are posted online. Sometimes it’s to get revenge after a bad breakup. Other times it’s to earn a profit. No matter the reason, revenge porn laws restrict anyone from sharing an image or video without the subject’s consent.

It is not a question of whether you consented to the intimate picture or video to be taken of you in the first place – what matters is whether you consented to the publication of that picture or video to third parties on the Internet.

What Does a Victim of Revenge Porn Look Like?

People from all walks of life have fallen victim to revenge porn.

Both men and women are equally likely to have sensitive photos posted. However, younger people (ages 15 – 29) are most likely to be threatened with or to have had private photos shared publically.

Many people fall victim to revenge porn after having their account or computer hacked. Although it’s not possible to say if there’s a direct correlation, the statistics show that if a person’s private information has been stolen, they’re at a greater risk of having their private pictures shared publicly without permission.

What to do if You’re a Victim of Revenge Porn

No revenge porn law can fully relieve the emotional distress you’re feeling after having some of your most intimate photos and moments shared with the world. However, there are things you can do to remove the images and to limit how many people see them.

1. Take Action on Your Own to Remove the Images

You don’t have to wait long to take action against the people who harmed you. As soon as you’re tipped off to one of your private images being made publicly available, you should let Google and Bing know.

Google and Bing implemented reporting tools to remove webpages containing revenge porn from their search results. By using these reporting tools, your private photos can’t show up in the search results, making it nearly impossible to find. Admittedly, that is not as good as having the images removed from the Internet, but it is a good first step. It’s the best way to remove your most sensitive moments from being found online.

  • Click here to learn how to report the URL with your private photos to Google.
  • Click here to report the URL with your private photos to Bing.

2. For States WIth Revenge Porn Laws

Only 34 states plus D.C. have revenge porn laws. These include:

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. California
  5. Colorado
  6. Connecticut
  7. Delaware
  8. District of Columbia
  9. Florida
  10. Georgia
  11. Hawaii
  12. Idaho
  13. Illinois
  14. Kansas
  15. Louisiana
  16. Maine
  17. Maryland
  18. Michigan
  19. Minnesota
  20. Nevada
  21. New Hampshire
  22. New Jersey
  23. New Mexico
  24. North Carolina
  25. North Dakota
  26. Oklahoma
  27. Oregon
  28. Pennsylvania
  29. Tennessee
  30. Texas
  31. Utah
  32. Vermont
  33. Virginia
  34. Washington
  35. Wisconsin

Each state works a little bit differently, has its own definition for revenge porn, and its own way of classifying the crime. Regardless, if your state is on the list, you can file a criminal complaint against the person or organization that published your private photos. You can also file a civil lawsuit against a person who unlawfully used your images to cause you emotional distress, make a profit, or both.

3. If Your State Does NOT Have Revenge Porn Laws

If your state does not have a specific law against publishing images without the other person’s consent, you still have options. You can file a civil suit for invasion of privacy. This enables you to have a strong voice against the people who unlawfully shared your photos, even if your state doesn’t recognize revenge porn as the crime it is.

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Revenge porn is increasingly common, but that doesn’t make it any less damaging. At Hutcherson Law, we’ve seen first-hand the anguish it causes to have private photos shared without consent. If you’ve been a victim, we want to be your voice. Contact us to share your story and learn how you can take back control over your most intimate moments.