Illustration by Max Fleishman (Fair Use)

For starters, there is no federal law against it.

Sharing revenge porn, or even looking at nonconsensual pornography, is far from a victimless crime. Often, perpetrators won’t just take, hack, or share nude photos of a victim without their consent—they’ll also leak identifying information, links to social media profiles, and family and work contacts. And even if a victim spends thousands in litigation fees to get a Facebook account or server shut down, the internet is forever. The violation of privacy lives on.

15 things you didn’t know about revenge porn

1) “Revenge Porn” is actually a misnomer

For the most part, the phrase “revenge porn” conjures the thought of nude images or video shared to the entire internet by spurned ex-partners looking for payback. In reality, a portion of “revenge porn” perpetrators are hackers who find images in emails or servers; they’re not vengeful, jilted lovers.

Additionally, the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a legislation and informational campaign against revenge porn, has shifted from the term “revenge porn” to “nonconsensual pornography” in order to denote how 78 percent of porn posters aren’t actually motivated by revenge or negative feelings toward the victim.

2) The “Fappening,” one of the largest-scale revenge porn leaks, had nothing to do with revenge

Between 2013 and 2014, hackers were able to gain access to celebrity iCloud accounts by taking advantage of a security issue regarding iCloud passwords. Photos and videos of more than 100 people—including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Kaley Cuoco—were dumped in the leak. An investigation revealed that several celebrities had their iCloud information phished from misleading emails that appeared to be from Apple and Google.

revenge porn : Jennifer Lawrence Screengrab via YouTube

Jennifer Lawrence

3) The first well-known revenge porn case was over Hustler magazine’s monthly feature called “Beaver Hunt”

For “Beaver Hunt,” the magazine published reader-submitted images of naked women who were often identified by their hobbies, sexual fantasies, and sometimes their names. Photos were submitted along with “consent forms” from the women themselves.

However, one couple in Texas sued the magazine for defamation and invasion of privacy in 1984 for publishing the wife’s photo. The couple had alleged the entry, which included the wife’s identifying information, had been submitted by neighbors who had stolen the photos from their home, and that Hustler didn’t properly vet the photos before printing them.

4) Long before “Beaver Hunt,” women like Marilyn Monroe were featured in Playboy and Penthouse without consent

For the first issue of Playboy, published in 1953, Hugh Hefner had purchased calendar pinup photos of Marilyn Monroe, who was then at the height of her career. He then printed one of them in the issue’s centerfold without her consent, according to 1967 TIME story about the magazine.

In 1983, Vanessa Williams became the first black woman crowned Miss America. However, she was forced to give up the title the following year after photos from a nude shoot done in 1982 were published in Penthouse without her consent. In 2015, more than three decades later, the CEO of the Miss America Organization apologized to Williams for, “anything that was said or done that made you feel any less than the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be.”

Just this March, Wheel of Fortune personality Vanna White revealed that her May 1987 Playboy cover was actually taken during a separate photo shoot she did while struggling as a model in Los Angeles. Once she became a co-host on the show, White said Hefner obtained the photos and ran them without her consent.

Other famous women whose photos were run by Playboy, Hustler, and similar magazines without consent include Charlize Theron, Uma Thurman, Madonna, and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, according to Complex

5) It wasn’t until 2010 that someone was jailed for posting revenge porn on Facebook

According to research by Dr. Michael Salter, a social sciences and psychology professor at the University of Western Sydney, Joshua Ashby of New Zealand was the first known person to be jailed for posting revenge porn to Facebook. Ashby had accessed an ex-girlfriend’s Facebook account, posted a nude photo of her, and changed her privacy settings to public. The image remained online for 12 hours before Facebook shut down the account. Ashby went to jail for four months under morality and decency laws.

6) Hunter Moore became the “most hated man on the internet” with his revenge porn website

Is Anyone Up, the website that Moore launched in 2010, depicted ex-partner- and user-submitted nude photos, as well as hacked photos, of normal everyday folks, often including identifying information including their name, the email addresses of their bosses and family, and links to their social media profiles. While Is Anyone Up? was the most infamous of revenge porn sites, victims of revenge porn were also exploited on sites called WinByState, UGotPosted, Texxxan, and Is Anybody Down?


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7) Craig Brittain founded Is Anybody Down?, a site based on Is Anyone Up

While not as infamous as Moore, Brittain was more calculated and aggressive in his quest to humiliate revenge porn victims.

According to Salter, Is Anybody Down? employed a “content acquisition specialist” who would talk to women on online dating sites and solicit nude images. Brittain himself was accused of posing as a woman online to solicit nude photos. He’s also been accused of posing as fictitious New York lawyer David Blade III, who said he’d have photos removed from Is Anybody Down? for $200 to $300.

8) Both Moore and Brittain ended up being hacked and doxxed by Anonymous

Brittain’s old LiveJournal blog was leaked, revealing his misfortunes in dating and his view of “girls” as “evil.” Meanwhile, Moore had the entirety of his personal information doxxed, including logins, passwords, and credit card information, in an Anonymous attack called “Hunt Hunter.”

“We will protect anyone who is victimized by abuse of our internet, we will prevent the stalking, rape, and possible murders as by-product of his sites,” Anonymous said in a press release regarding their doxing of Moore.

9) Moore ended up selling IsAnyoneUp.com to anti-bullying site BullyVille in 2012

The revenge porn mastermind was arrested in January 2014 for conspiracy, unauthorized access to a protected computer, and aggravated identity theft. In December 2015, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

gf revenge porn Screengrab via Bullyville.com

10) The most famous female revenge porn offender is a teen girl who launched “DickiLeaks.”

In 2010, 17-year-old Kim Duthie posted nude photos of two Australian Football League (AFL) stars after an exclusive relationship with one of them ended. After obtaining nude photos of several AFL players from the computer of the player she was dating, the teen posted several of the photos as part of the “DickiLeaks” series to Facebook and lied that she was pregnant. (Duthie then went on to say her AFL ex-boyfriend’s agent provided her drugs and had sex with her, which she also later admitted to lying about.)

11) An estimated 10 million Americans have been threatened with having their nude images or videos shared

Meanwhile, one in five Australians is likely to be a victim of revenge porn. The likelihood of being targeted for revenge porn drastically increases for members of the LGBTQ community, in both the U.S. and Australia.

12) George Zimmerman has subjected women to revenge porn

Zimmerman, who was acquitted in the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin, was booted from Twitter after posting two topless photos of his ex-girlfriend in 2015, including her name, phone number, and email address. He accused Heather, the ex, of cheating on him “with a dirty Muslim” and of stealing money and a gun.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Dot, Heather said she had attempted to break up with Zimmerman several times and had filed a restraining order against him.

“I’ve never dreamed that anything like this would ever happen to me,” Heather said. “I’m from a very small town. I’ve never been in the public eye by any means.”

13) A “social media prenup” trend allowed couples to set legal parameters for social media posts

While it’s not a prenuptial agreement itself, the social media “prenup” is a clause that could, for example, forbid a spouse from sharing photos online that could harm the other’s professional reputation, nude photos or otherwise.

The penalty for violating your spouse and the clause? Well, for someone who makes below $5 million, it’d be $50,000 per offending post.

“We want to be able to contractually limit the damage,” Ann-Margaret Carrozza, a New York attorney, told ABC News in 2014. “The damage is psychological, in the case of humiliating posts and tweets and pictures out there, and it’s economic because my career prospects are harmed.”

14) Dictionary.com made “revenge porn” an official term in 2015

Dictionary.com’s addition was ushered in alongside “brogrammer,” “microaggression,” “smartwatch,” and “dox,” which also typically happens to victims of nonconsensual pornography, too, as their personal information is made public without consent.

Merriam-Webster, however, didn’t include the term in its book until 2016, alongside terms “Bitcoin,” “FOMO,” and “trigger warning.”

revenge porn Photo via Dmitry Barsky/Wikimedia (CC-BY-SA)

15) In January 2017, Facebook moderators flagged more than 50,000 potential cases of revenge porn

Documents seen by the Guardian showed Facebook also detected 2,450 cases of “sextortion,” attempts to extort money, or more nude photos, from someone. As a result, more than 14,000 accounts were disabled. 33 of the cases reviewed involved children, and 16 were escalated to Facebook’s internal investigations team.

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance. 

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