John Oliver tackles the disgusting world of revenge porn and online harassment

John Oliver reigns supreme among the late-night comedy hosts as the king of Internet issues. While Fallon and Kimmel mined YouTube for fun new memes, Last Week Tonight provided the definitive mainstream commentary on net neutrality. Now, Oliver has moved on to discussing revenge porn and online harassment, a controversial issue regularly mishandled by TV pundits.

Online harassment is a massive problem, especially for women, but as Oliver highlighted on Sunday night’s show, many recent cases have proven that law enforcement has no idea how to deal with it. Gamergate supporters continue to harass high-profile women in the video game industry, and untold numbers of people have had their lives ruined by ex-partners posing nude photos on revenge porn sites—a practice that is still difficult to prosecute in 27 states.

The key takeaway from this segment—and the accompanying faux-’90s AOL ad—is that the Internet is real life. Harassment on social media or a revenge porn forum is no less potent than harassment by phone, snail mail, or in person. The Internet just provides more protection for harassers, because it allows them to operate at a distance.

The sooner that lawmakers understand this basic fact (and at least one of them is on it), the sooner people will begin to treat online harassment like a serious crime. In the meantime, many people still have no real legal protection from vindictive assholes violating their privacy on revenge porn sites or Twitter.

Screengrab via Last Week Tonight/YouTube

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor