How to Permanently Remove Content From Revenge Porn Websites Featured Image

How to Permanently Remove Content From Revenge Porn Websites

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    Revenge porn is not something the average person thinks about on a daily basis, however, this distressing situation happens to roughly one in twelve (8%) people in the United States. Revenge porn can be removed from revenge porn websites and the Internet. If you or someone you care about is a victim of revenge porn, you can remove the content by taking one or more of the following steps:

    1. Act quickly to gather the appropriate information;
    2. Ask the person who posted the content to remove it;
    3. Negotiate with the offending revenge porn site to secure removal of the content;
    4. Send Google a notice of revenge porn;
    5. Obtain copyright and send a DMCA takedown notice;
    6. File a lawsuit.

    At Minc Law, we help victims of revenge porn remove intimate images and videos from revenge porn sites and the Internet and track down the perpetrator who published the content.

    In this blog post, we will discuss revenge porn, explain why it is important that intimate photos and videos be removed from the Internet as quickly as possible, provide tips to assist victims with removing intimate content from their search results while they work to permanently remove the content, and help affected parties prepare for meeting with a revenge porn lawyer.

    What is Revenge Porn?

    When a nude image is published on the Internet without the subject’s consent, this is a form of image-based abuse and called revenge porn (or non-consensual pornography). Revenge porn is not limited to an image; it can be a photo, a video, or any other type of media picturing the subject in an intimate state. Revenge porn does not need to be published for the purposes of revenge or extortion to constitute revenge porn.

    Being the victim of revenge porn not only causes severe damage to the subject’s reputation, but it can also have severe emotional, personal, and professional consequences.

    Revenge porn has different legal classifications across the United States. It can be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor in some states, while in other states it may not be addressed at all.

    You can read up further about the revenge porn laws in your state here.

    How is Revenge Porn Typically Distributed?

    There are a few scenarios in which a person can gain access to your personal images:

    1. The victim sends an intimate image to another person, intending for it to remain private,
    2. A person hacks into a victim’s phone, computer, app (like Snapchat), or cloud storage system, or
    3. A person takes a photo of the victim (with or without their consent).

    Once another person has access to your photo, he or she can send it to other people or even publish it to various platforms including social media websites (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), forums like Reddit, or even revenge porn websites (as explained below). When a person has access to your intimate images, they can control who else has access to them.

    How another person accesses or distributes your intimate content is irrelevant for deciding on whether it is considered revenge pornography. An intimate photo distributed to a third party without your consent is revenge porn.

    What is a Revenge Porn Website?

    A ‘revenge porn website’ is a website that purports to be a user-submitted content site. While most of these sites do take user submissions, it is a sad reality that site administrators often “scrape” or copy the content from other sites.

    Scraping content not only generates more content, but it also provides these revenge porn websites with greater opportunities for monetary gain when victims request that the site remove their intimate content. Often, these revenge porn sites promote the content as being “leaked.”

    In addition to publishing a victim’s intimate photos, there is a disturbing new trend with revenge porn websites where the site admin or site user researches the victim and also publishes the victim’s personal information. This can include hundreds of photos from a victim’s social media profiles, their phone number, email addresses, career, and even location.

    Revenge porn websites are notoriously difficult to work with, and can employ various techniques to hide their contact information. They often can request exorbitant revenge porn removal fees in exchange for removing your content.

    Thankfully, agencies are starting to crack down on revenge porn sites. While large revenge porn websites like MyEx.com and HLBalbums.pk have been removed, there are unfortunately still hundreds of other revenge porn sites that remain live.

    If you are unsure of whether you have been posted to a revenge porn website, or want more information about removing your intimate images and videos from a revenge porn site, please reach out to our team of experienced content removal attorneys.

    Importance of Removing Revenge Porn From the Internet

    The existence of revenge porn is extremely damaging, and the effects can increase over time as the content is distributed across the Internet. Revenge porn is not a problem that will go away on its own. It is essential that the problem is dealt with as soon as possible for the following reasons:

    Content Can Spread Rapidly

    The longer intimate images and media remain online, the more likely they are to be redistributed or scraped to popular “leaked” porn sites and forums. As content spreads to multiple sites, it becomes a more expensive, difficult, and time-consuming issue to remove.

    Revenge porn that originated on a U.S. site can also spread to foreign revenge porn sites that do not adhere to U.S. law (although many countries have their own revenge porn laws). This makes it much more difficult to remove.

    Identifying Data Does Not Last Forever

    The longer a victim waits to act, the less likely it will be for that person to identify the perpetrator publishing the harmful content. Websites and Internet service providers (ISPs) do not store IP addresses or subscriber data indefinitely. In fact, many ISPs delete data between 90 and 180 days after the content was published as part of their normal retention policies.

    Often, this subscriber data is the only way to identify the person who posted the revenge porn. As a result, it is important to move quickly to attain this data.

    Revenge Porn Is Professionally and Mentally Damaging

    Being a victim of such an invasive and humiliating act can cause significant damage to a person’s mental health. According to a 2014 study in the Richmond Journal of Law & Technology, 80-93% of revenge porn victims suffered significant emotional distress, including anger, guilt, paranoia, depression, and even suicide.

    The presence of intimate images in a victim’s search results can also affect employment and professional opportunities. When an employer or recruiter finds nude photos of an employee or prospective employee in search results, this can have devastating effects on the victim’s career. Revenge porn victims are often screened out of employment opportunities, fired, or asked to resign when their intimate photos are found on revenge porn websites and the Internet.

    Steps to Remove Revenge Porn From the Internet

    The process to remove revenge porn from the Internet can vary depending on your situation, the site(s) where the media was posted, and the type of content that was used. Your attorney may suggest one or several of the following options:

    1. Reach Out to the Person Who Posted the Content & Ask Them to Remove It

    Sometimes, the best course of action to remove revenge porn is to contact the person who published the content and request that they remove it.

    An attorney may send a cease and desist letter stating that if the individual does not remove the content immediately, assist in removing the content, or pay the expenses related to revenge porn removal, the victim will file legal action.

    An attorney does not necessarily need to send an aggressive legal letter. Sometimes the best course of action is by reaching out through a phone call or email. This will depend on the facts of your unique situation.

    2. Initiate a Correspondence With the Website Telling Them to Remove the Content

    The quickest way to secure the removal of revenge porn is often to contact the website where the sensitive content is posted and request that they immediately remove it from their platform. The success of this course of action often depends on the legitimacy of the site in question.

    If the site is a mainstream social media platform, they may be more responsive and easier to work with than a revenge porn website operating overseas to evade law enforcement.

    Some websites will only cooperate with a removal request if you pay a processing fee. While it might seem unsavory to have to pay a site to remove content published without your knowledge or consent, it is often quicker and more cost-effective to pay a processing fee than it is to seek a court order to remove content.

    3. Send a DMCA Takedown Notice

    If you own the copyright to the sensitive content that is posted, an attorney may send a DMCA takedown notice to compel removal of the content. DMCA stands for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a 1998 copyright law that extends copyright regulations more fully into the digital space. Although a DMCA takedown notice is U.S. law and is technically not binding in foreign countries, some foreign sites will still comply with a DMCA request.

    A DMCA takedown notice informs a website or Internet service provider (ISP) that your copyrighted work is being used without your permission. This can be a photo, a video, a musical arrangement, etc. If you took a picture of yourself, you own the copyright. If someone else took a photo of you, they own the copyright. However, you can gain copyright ownership of artistic works you did not create (see step 6 below).

    The process of sending a DMCA notice can be a delicate one in which many things can go wrong, so it is often best to work with an experienced DMCA attorney.

    Keep in mind that a DMCA takedown notice is not always successful in removing content. The website or publisher of the content will have the option of filing a counter-notice and arguing that the content should stay up because they are the true copyright owner, or that their use of the content constitutes fair use. At this point, your only remedy would be to file a copyright lawsuit.

    4. Send Google a Notice of Revenge Porn

    A great option for removing revenge porn, that is often used in conjunction with other methods, is to get the offending URL removed from Google search results. This is most successfully done by submitting a notice to Google through their revenge porn portal.

    Sending a notice to Google will often grant you temporary relief, as it prevents casual Google users from stumbling across the sexually explicit image, however, this alone does not solve the underlying problem. Reporting revenge porn to Google does not remove the URL from the Internet. The website and your image will still be able to be found through other search engines, or if the person searches your name directly into the website.

    A Google revenge porn submission will also not help in a situation where the URL of your content is constantly changing. For example, if you have Google block “Jen-smith-page-1” and the website changes your URL content URL to “Jen-smith-page-2”, your content will be able to be found in Google search results.

    Google can be particular about these requests, so you may have to send it several times. You do not have to wait for an attorney to take this step, however, if your submissions are unsuccessful, it might be helpful to elicit assistance.

    Check out Google’s instructions for more information on reporting revenge porn and underage nudity.

    5. Draft a Copyright Assignment Agreement

    If you do not own the copyright to the intimate images and you want to remove the images with a DMCA request (explained in further detail in step 3), you may have to purchase the copyright through a copyright assignment agreement.

    A copyright assignment agreement can be utilized to transfer copyright ownership of an image to you, so that you can claim copyright infringement as a strategy for removal.

    This can be utilized in any situation where you did not take the intimate photo of yourself. This includes situations where a professional photographer took photos, or you signed a contract relinquishing your rights to the content.

    An experienced Internet or copyright attorney can help you negotiate for copyright ownership of your content, and can draft a copyright assignment agreement so that you can gain ownership over the images and remove them.

    6. File a Revenge Porn Lawsuit

    Sometimes, your best option for content removal will be to bring legal action against the offender. Obtaining a court order will assist in removing revenge porn and will compensate you for the damages you have suffered as a result of the publication of your intimate content.

    Keep in mind that we will not sue Google or the site that your content is published on. All legal claims must be brought against the individual who published your content.

    If you want more information, check out this article on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, or check out our video on the subject below.

    Video: Why Section 230 of the CDA Should Matter to You

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    Watch

     

    Depending on the jurisdiction, you might have several different legal claims. In addition to having revenge porn claims, you may also have privacy claims, cyberstalking or online harassment claims, sexual harassment claims, or Internet blackmail. You additionally may have success taking out a restraining order against the individual.

    A revenge porn lawsuit can be approached in one of two ways:

    • Filing against the individual at fault, if you know who they are;
    • Filing against a John Doe Defendant, if you do not know their identity.

    A John Doe lawsuit process would entail subpoenaing the revenge porn website that contains your revenge porn images to obtain the IP address, email address, and account information of the person who posted the intimate or private image. If an identification is made, the person will then be named in the lawsuit. We cover this process in more detail in the video below.

    Video: What is a John Doe Lawsuit? How to Identify Anonymous Defamers Online

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    In some states, you can file your suit “under seal” (your information is filed with the court without it becoming a matter of public record) or as a Jane/John Doe Plaintiff to protect your identity. An attorney can work with local law enforcement to hold the perpetrators liable under relevant harassment, revenge porn, and cyberstalking laws.

    Seek Legal Help With Online Revenge Porn

    If you are a revenge porn victim, you can take immediate action to remove your intimate images or videos without the help of an attorney, however, there are many reasons to seek legal help. For instance:

    • The longer sensitive content like nude or explicit images stay online, the more likely they are to be distributed to other websites. The more sites that contain the photos, the more difficult and time-consuming it can be to remove them. Attorneys can analyze how much content is posted online and tackle content removal as quickly as possible to minimize the spread.
    • Viewing sensitive content about yourself can be extremely distressing. You may want the assistance and support of a third party advocate, who is not emotionally involved in the situation, to help analyze your options.
    • If you remove something, you may lose the data point. Acting on your own to delete messages or take down content can result in losing your chance of identifying the person posting your sensitive information. This means it will be a lot harder for you to stop the perpetrator and seek damages.
    • Depending on the age you were when the content was published, you may have other recourse and free resources at your disposal (like NCMEC or the FBI). An attorney can help you explore these options.
    • If a site is not responsive to you, they may be more responsive to an attorney. Additionally, an attorney may find other contact points for the site where the harmful content was posted.
    • If you do not know who is targeting you and you want the attacks to stop, you may have no way to make it stop without filing a lawsuit and getting a court order. Having an attorney on your side will make the transition to litigation easier.
    • An attorney can help you preserve evidence and seek damages against the person attacking you.

    What Should You Look For in a Revenge Porn Removal Attorney?

    When you choose a legal representative for your nonconsensual porn case, you need to be sure you are going with an experienced attorney who can get you the best results possible. Look for:

    Someone Familiar With Revenge Porn Sites & Revenge Porn-Related Laws

    There can be both civil and criminal recourse depending on the state in which the claim is filed, so your attorney needs to have a thorough understanding of the legal options available to you.

    Someone Who Understands How Time-Sensitive Revenge Porn Removals Are

    The longer you wait to act, the worse the situation becomes.

    Someone Familiar With Negotiating With Foreign Porn sites & Forums

    If international websites are unfamiliar territory, your attorney may get stuck and fail to obtain adequate legal recourse.

    Someone Skilled With Unmasking Anonymous Individuals Online

    Experience with tracking IP addresses is crucial to identifying the anonymous poster behind this unlawful act.

    Someone Skilled at Conducting a Full Analysis of Your Search Results

    You need an attorney who can fully analyze and interpret the content related to you on the Internet.

    Someone Familiar With Google’s Revenge Porn Portal

    Your attorney will need to be able to act quickly to remove content from search engine results.

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    How to Prepare to Talk to an Attorney

    Once you have decided it is time to seek professional help, it is important to be prepared. Below are four steps you can take to better equip your attorney to tackle your revenge porn issue as quickly as possible.

    Compile a List of All URLs Containing the Content That You Can Find

    Google yourself and see what comes up in your search results. We recommend using an incognito browser to minimize the chances of the sensitive content being sorted higher in your search results.

    Another option to locate revenge porn is to conduct a reverse image search using the intimate image to see how many sites contain the content. This will not work to find all the social media sites your images may be on, but it is a good start.

    Minc Law does offer a comprehensive, 24/7 digital risk monitoring service that scans the Internet in real-time to identify sensitive and damaging content.

    Do You Know Who Took the Photo or Video?

    Take a second to think about who took the intimate or nude photo in question. Were the photos selfies that you sent to an intimate partner? Did a partner or a photographer take them?

    Whoever took a photo or video is the copyright holder of that photo. This does not mean that the copyright holder of a private sexual image or video can publish that content to revenge porn sites and the Internet without your consent – however, your attorney will need to know the identity of the copyright holder to assess the situation and devise the best plan of attack for removing the explicit content.

    Identify Who Actually Posted the Content Online

    Next, ask yourself who actually posted the content online, if it was a different person than the photographer. Most cases of revenge porn are instigated by an ex or a previous intimate partner, so it is a good idea to start there.

    If you know who posted your private content, you will have more removal options and have a greater chance of obtaining civil damages from this perpetrator. If you do not know who posted the content, compile a list of every person who you suspect had access to the content.

    While it is not necessary to know who posted your content to remove it, a list of suspects may be helpful for the attorney when he or she researches the target.

    Have You Received Any Threatening Messages Related to the Content?

    If you have received any threatening messages related to (or referencing) the revenge porn in question, take a screenshot of everything that you can. Do not delete the messages. These records may be essential to identifying the perpetrator who did this to you and stopping the unlawful dissemination and posting of revenge porn.

    If you have received threats related to the content, proof of these instances could help make an online extortion case. Not only that, but documentation of the direct messages could be enough of a data trail to identify the perpetrator behind the initial attack.

    How Old Were You in These Photos or Videos?

    If you were potentially underage when the photos in question were taken, it could make their removal easier.

    Many sites have a zero-tolerance policy for pornographic images of minors, so your attorney could get the photos immediately removed. For example, Google’s Terms of Service state that child pornography posted on their platforms will be taken down.

    Being an underage victim of nonconsensual pornography can enable you to access free resources. For instance, you would have the option of reporting the case to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. You could also involve the FBI to find and prosecute these individuals criminally.

    Protect Your Social Media Privacy

    Finally, set all of your social media accounts to private – or temporarily deactivate them. In a disturbing trend, revenge porn websites are increasingly likely to find your social media profiles and take content off of them to include in albums with your intimate photos.

    Work With Minc Law to Remove Revenge Porn From the Internet

    At Minc Law, we advocate for victims of revenge porn. We understand that this is an embarrassing, scary time for you – and our mission is, therefore, to be relentlessly aggressive in your defense while being compassionate and discreet.

    Our firm’s goal is to help as many clients as possible to remove revenge porn and seek damages against the people targeting them. We work with law enforcement when necessary, including the FBI. We conduct a full analysis of your search results and develop a targeting strategy for removing the content as quickly as possible.

    And even after content has been removed, we help our clients monitor their search results.

    ★★★★★

    “Ali was extremely professional and efficient in managing my case. She walked me through all my available options and was responsive, empathetic and understanding of my situation. I couldn’t be more grateful to her and her team at Minc Law for the result they were able to achieve for me. The peace of mind is worth more than I can explain and I would highly recommend them to anyone considering their services.”

    ME, Sept 6, 2020

    If you have been the victim of revenge porn and want to know what is next, let us help you. You can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation by calling us at (216) 373-7706, speaking with a Chat representative, or filling out our online contact form.

    Contact Minc Law

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