Now that posting and sharing revenge porn is an official offence under UK law, Igniyte takes some time to explain the facts of revenge porn and how they apply to online reputation management.

Definition of revenge porn

Revenge porn is sexually explicit media that’s posted online without the consent of the individual(s) involved. The ultimate example is Jennifer Lawrence; Elle UK reported that last year, the popular actress’ mobile phone was hacked through technology firm Apple’s online storage system, iCloud, and naked pictures of her were posted online. Lawrence’s rep described the incident as a “flagrant act of violation” and it’s a fitting description.

The law of revenge porn

The actress’ rep went on to say, “the authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.” The rep was referring to authorities in the US, but it’s important to note that the UK government has recently taken steps to outlaw revenge porn.

According to the Telegraph, this new law makes it illegal to disclose a “private sexual photograph or film” without the consent of the person depicted in the content, and with the intent to cause them distress. This means that if you agreed to the creation of a private sexual image but didn’t consent to its public release, you are a victim of revenge porn under the new law.

How common is revenge porn?

You may be reading this and thinking, ‘this is the sort of thing that happens to the Jennifer Lawrences of the world, it would never happen to me.’ The reality is that ordinary people are targeted by perpetrators of revenge porn every day.

A study carried out by McAfee in the US showed that 36% of respondents have sent or intended to send intimate content to their partners. Of this number, 10% of ex-partners threatened to post sexually explicit photos online; a threat that was carried out in 60% of cases. Meanwhile, statistics quoted by the Telegraph show that there have been 149 reported offences of revenge porn in the UK.

Reputational consequences

This means that the danger of revenge porn is real and it has consequences. One of those consequences is reputational. If someone posts sexually explicit pictures of you online, chances are a lot of people will look at these images, which will cause them to rank in a search for your name on Google.

Considering the fact that the search engine has over a billion users, this means that these images will cause serious harm to your reputation online. Let’s turn back to Jennifer Lawrence to prove this point. The sexually explicit pictures of her were posted last year, yet a link to a Guardian article about the scandal still appears on the first page of a search for her name on Google today.

Damage limitation

Therefore, if somebody posts sexually explicit media of you online, it’s vital that you take steps immediately to curb the damage it would inflict on your reputation online. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Removal: You need to get the sexually explicit media taken down as soon as possible. To do this, you must lodge a request with the website hosting the material. We suggest you do this through a specialist online privacy solicitor, to ensure the website complies.
  • Contact Google: You also need to ensure that links to the sexually explicit material don’t appear in a Google search for your name. The search engine’s removal policies says that it may remove pornographic material if you request they do so.
  • Take out an injunction: You also need to take out an injunction against your ex-partner to ensure they don’t continue to post sexually explicit material of you. Make sure you hire the services of a solicitor to take out an injunction; they’ll ensure that it’s carefully drafted to ensure it’s effective.
  • Take civil action: If you take civil action, you can claim damages to compensate for the consequences that revenge porn has inflicted on your reputation online. With the help of a solicitor, you can sue the perpetrator of revenge porn under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which prevents the mis-use of private information.
  • Take criminal action: The new law also allows you to take criminal action against the perpetrator. As with any other crime, take your case to the police and hire a solicitor to represent you. They will take your case to criminal court.

Preventative measures

These measures will give you the means to engage in damage limitation, however, they won’t completely prevent the damage that revenge porn will cause to your reputation online. The only way you can do this is to implement preventative measures to protect your privacy online, so that no-one can access your private images in the first place. You should:

  • Protect your password: Your password is the gateway to your private information. Utilise the services of password protection services such as LastPass to ensure no-one can crack it.
  • Keep private information private: Only share private information with people you trust; share sexually explicit media with nobody!
  • Utilise privacy settings: Social media sites such as Facebook have privacy settings which you can use to safeguard your personal information. Familiarise yourself with the privacy settings of these social media sites to safeguard your private content.
  • Remember to log out: So many people believe that clicking the ‘x’ on a webpage will log them out; it won’t, It’ll allow other people to access your private information, so log out every time if you want to ensure you don’t become a victim of revenge porn.

Igniyte reputation management service

If you engage in ongoing online reputation management, you can ensure that revenge porn doesn’t damage your reputation online. Igniyte provides a comprehensive online reputation management service to help you combat the effect that revenge porn has on your online reputation.

If you want to find out more about Igniyte’s online reputation management services please contact Caroline Skipsey on tel: +44 (0) 203 542 8689 or email caroline@igniyte.co.uk in confidence.