While the internet continues to provide significant benefits to people, it also has its drawbacks. Many sites for instance, allow users to share and publish private details, non-consensual images and videos.

‘Revenge porn’, which involves the sharing of sexually explicit images, is becoming a serious issue online and is on the increase, despite being a criminal offence, leaving many people in a vulnerable position.

Details of revenge porn

The term ‘revenge porn’ does always refer to a case of a relationship breakup, where someone shares a sexually explicit photograph or video for ‘revenge’ on their former lover. Instances such as the Jennifer Lawrence case last year prove that no-one is necessarily immune. In many of these instances, however, the victim is known by the perpetrator. The vast majority of harm is generally caused by an ex-partner seeking ‘revenge’ against their former lover.

Your personal images and videos can be very difficult to track and permanently remove when they’re in the hands of someone with intent to cause problems.  Associated posts may also include the victim’s name, address, phone number and even their employer, as well as links to their social media profiles; encouraging even further trolling and harassment.

According to McAllister Olivarius, one in ten people have threatened to post naked images of their ex-partners online and 60% of those actually carry out this threat. Between 80-90% of those are believed to be women, and more than nine in ten (93%) suffer significant emotional distress as a result. Almost half (49%) are stalked online by someone who’s seen the material. Many can lose their jobs, suffer public humiliation and find difficulties in personal relationships with families and close friends.

Revenge porn is a violation of privacy which can often leave people feeling humiliated, vulnerable and regretful. This means that many of these crimes go unreported as people are too ashamed or embarrassed to go public, but it’s important for victims to remember that they’re not to blame.

Staying safe online

In order to withstand the best chance of avoiding becoming a hapless victim of revenge porn, Igniyte advises you to implement the following three key steps:

  • Think – Even if you are in a relationship and fully trust your partner, think very carefully before sharing images and videos with them. Regardless of the platform, even Snapchat, there’s a chance it could be leaked and you are taking a risk. Your private information should remain private, so never share sexually explicit material with anyone as a rule.
  • Privacy – Check that the privacy settings on your digital assets are up to date and you have the latest update downloaded. Keep track of who has access to your photo gallery and personal details. Check who has access to your iCloud, shared devices and social media profiles. Never share personal information or contact details online.
  • Vigilance – Take small steps to safeguard your privacy. You should always ensure your webcam is switched off when you’re not using it and regularly check through your phone gallery to remove any photos or videos which you no longer need. Always ensure you log out of webpages and utilise the privacy settings.

If you are subjected to revenge porn-style attacks, ensure as a first step you report it to the website where the images or videos were posted. Google and other major search engines also have the option to report abuse and specific imagery.

Revenge porn is a criminal offence so if you decide to go to the police, try to ensure that you have as much evidence of the incident as possible, with photos and/or recordings of the posts or messages.

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