Twitter Plans To Prevent Revenge Porn With Stricter Policies, But Will It Work?

Social media has always had problems with filtering and monitoring inappropriate content, but those issues have been extra toxic on Twitter in particular because it’s a unique type of service: it’s built on microblogging, meaning it’s short, it’s quick, and it spreads fast.

It’s not difficult to find hate speech, propaganda, sexism, racism, and all kinds of negative isms on Twitter. Just two or three clicks plus plenty of scrolling and users will immediately see the site’s dark, appalling side — and that’s exactly the problem, how easy it is to get there.

Twitter epicly fails at shutting down inappropriate content, and that hasn’t really changed for a long time. Some users even regard Twitter as an incredibly toxic place on the internet, which is a pretty staggering description for a site that’s not even niche. Is it cancer for the eyes? Not quite — but it’s headed there at an alarming pace.

Twitter has dealt with issues of harassment and toxicity in the past, with nearly always the same results: it fails. But it’s now promising that it will crack down harder on many unsettling activities in the site, specifically “revenge porn.”

Twitter said on Oct. 27 that it would begin imposing stricter rules on sharing sexual photos and videos of other people without their consent, otherwise referred to as revenge porn. The updates follow recent criticism on Twitter’s handling of such incidents. This summer, for instance, celebrity Rob Kardashian posted naked photos of his ex-girlfriend, which remained on Twitter for half an hour before being taken down.

Past rules on revenge porn prohibited people from posting “intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject’s consent.” The new rules, on the other hand, provide more clarity on what Twitter deems as inappropriate and how it plans to sanction violators. For one, the new rules now prohibit publishing compromising images of others taken by hidden cameras or other secretive methods. Images and videos captured privately and not intended for publishing are also prohibited.

Still, Twitter says “some forms of consensual nudity and adult content” are allowed.

Accounts that violate the new policies on revenge porn will be suspended once Twitter identifies that the content was distributed without the subject’s permission. Retweeters of the said content will be asked to remove offending tweets and be warned that if they continue violating the policies, their account will be suspended, too.

On paper, the new policies seem straightforward enough, but it’s difficult to gauge whether they’ll be effective. Just consider this: Twitter also doesn’t allow hate speech and harassment to plague the site — how’s that going? It’s not enough to put a sign that says “no revenge porn allowed.” Twitter has to close the doors permanently for those who violate its rules. Until then, the site will continue to be a toxic-laden wasteland of hate and harassment.


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Her nude photos leaked online. Now she’s fighting back

fighting back

What is revenge porn? It’s “non-consensual pornography that is distributed online to shame, exploit or extort its victims.” Basically, it’s sharing other’s nude photos online for your own selfish reasons. It’s an epidemic that ruins lives; however, it is often overlooked by the general populous as well as the government. But that’s all about to change.

Leah Juliett, A student, is campaigning to end revenge porn after she fell victim to the cruel practice – which is illegal in some states – when she was just 14 years old.

Leah Juliett, now 20, was devastated when a boy she was communicating with shared naked pictures of her with their entire school and online.

The traumatic experience left the New York-based poet, actor and activist feeling alone, vulnerable and too scared to report it.

She sent 4 revealing photos to a male classmate who was unsatisfied with the photos as he wanted ones that “clearly showed her genitals.” Juliett declined to send more photos. As a form of revenge, her classmate uploaded the photos online without informing her.

She found out a couple months later when her lab partner pulled out his phone and showed her her nude photos; the same ones she sent to her male classmate months before. Her lab partner then proceeded to tell her that “every guy on the football team had them,” Juliett recalled in an interview with CNN.

“He told me that he was going to ruin my life and he proceeded to send my pictures around, although at the time I didn’t know. I didn’t find out until people started telling me they had seen the photos.”

The pictures also appeared on a website which kept being re-posted in different online locations.

Juliett was so frightened of the potential consequences of the images that she started to extricate herself from extra-curricular activities.

Juliett created a March Against Revenge Porn that was held in N.Y.C on April 1. The March’s goal was to “create a community for victims and allies, develop a platform for the voice of revenge porn victims, fight to criminalize revenge pornography at a national level, and educate young people about their cyber civil rights.”

Colorado Revenge Porn Statute Is Good Law and Sound Policy

On Thursday, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law a statute criminalizing “revenge porn.” As professors with expertise in constitutional and criminal law, we commend the legislature and governor for their actions and hope other states will follow suit.

Revenge porn–more accurately known as “non-consensual pornography“–is the distribution of intimate pictures of another person without that person’s consent. One common scenario involves an angry former partner who wishes to humiliate. But roommates, landlords, voyeurs, and hackers have likewise obtained and distributed intimate pictures without permission.

Victims of non-consensual pornography suffer devastating harm. Unwanted publication of one’s intimate pictures can damage employment prospects, destroy relationships, and exact an immense psychological toll. Many victims experience intense harassment and threats to physical safety–both online and offline–as a direct result of the publication of the pictures. Several victims have committed suicide.

In recognition of these harms, twelve states, most recently including Colorado, have already criminalized non-consensual pornography. Legislation is pending in several others and at the federal level.

The new Colorado revenge porn law creates two misdemeanors. One applies when an individual posts intimate pictures to harass the victim by causing severe emotional distress; the other when the pictures are posted for monetary gain. Both offenses apply only to posting on social media either without consent or when the perpetrator should have known that the person depicted reasonably expected that the pictures would remain private. Neither applies to pictures related to a newsworthy event or to events related to public figures.

Some have questioned whether criminalizing non-consensual pornography infringes on protected expression. While this is an important concern, we believe that Colorado’s new law survives constitutional scrutiny. The First Amendment has never shielded all expression: the Supreme Court has held that the government can regulate certain unprotected categories of speech that, like non-consensual pornography, cause egregious harm and lack social value. Indeed, victims have already turned to civil remedies such as copyright law, which courts have repeatedly held constitutional. And the ACLU–typically critical of laws that infringe on expression–agrees that criminal laws can withstand constitutional scrutiny if they comply with requirements that the Colorado law meets.

It’s true that the Supreme Court has never explicitly addressed non-consensual pornography. But the Supreme Court had also never addressed obscenity until it addressed obscenity, nor had it addressed child pornography until it addressed child pornography. Technological developments enable both inspiring new forms of communication and awful new mechanisms of abuse. The First Amendment is subject to ongoing interpretation as the world it regulates continues to evolve. Non-consensual pornography closely resembles other forms of unprotected expression and should be categorized with them.

Others might object that non-consensual pornography–while repugnant–should not be criminalized because civil law provides adequate remedies. For example, copyright law allows some victims to sue for damages and have their pictures removed, and tort law permits suits for invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and similar claims. Such lawsuits play an important role, but they provide an incomplete remedy. Civil litigation is expensive, and not everyone can afford a lawyer. Copyright law only provides a remedy when the victim owns the copyright to the picture, which is often not the case if someone else took the picture. Some perpetrators of non-consensual pornography are insolvent, so victims would recover little or nothing. Most importantly, even large civil damages awards won’t solve the real problem. Once published online, non-consensual pornography is often downloaded and reposted innumerable times. Preventing initial posting is critical, and criminalization supplies an important deterrent.

The new Colorado crimes will be Class 1 misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum $10,000 fine and a year imprisonment. This category also includes such offenses as unlawful telemarketing practices, late payment of gambling taxes, and failure to present evidence of car insurance. The serious harm caused by publishing intimate pictures without permission deserves punishment at least as severe as these acts. Indeed, some states have made non-consensual pornography a felony.

The law is legally sound and good policy. We are glad to have it on the books in our state.

Colorado’s New Revenge Porn Statute Is Good Law and Sound Policy – Huffington Post
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