It’s upsetting and stressful to find an unconsented image of oneself posted on any website, let alone an intimate photo which was given to a past boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse in confidence.

When such photo was taken in a private location or provided to the other person with the understanding that the image was for “his or her eyes only,” only to be later found in the dark corners of the Internet – feelings of betrayal and embarrassment will undeniably arise. To top it all off, such photos are now commonly being posted on revenge websites – including cheater reporting and revenge porn websites – implying you acted promiscuously, unfaithfully, or committed other egregious acts.

That’s when embarrassment transforms into sheer horror, and it becomes time to consult an experienced revenge porn removal attorney.

While loved ones and other reasonable persons will react to finding out about such in an understanding manner, it can still have severe consequences on your social, personal, and professional life. Unfortunately, with the Internet, things have a way of circulating and disseminated to people you’d rather not have know about such things – whether it family, friends, or colleagues. It’s time to stamp out the wildfire before it spreads further and embeds itself in the inner workings of the Internet.

Let’s start with a case example, MyEx.com – a revenge porn website which operated for years and ruined many online reputations and lives.

The Brass Tacks: What was MyEx.com?

MyEx.com was a toxic online website where malicious posters would upload nude and intimate photographs of former lovers, spouses, and other individuals, along with their real names and identifying information; age, name, and location. Malicious users were even able to link to victims’ Facebook and Twitter Accounts making it one of the most intrusive and invasive revenge sites to date.

Such photos posted to MyEx.com were often pornographic and of images sent in confidence by spouses and lovers. MyEx.com was created specifically to destroy reputations and harm innocent persons. There’s no other reason for posting such malicious and intimate photos.

Such malicious and defamatory posts were just a click away from the entire world to see – appearing on the first page of Google and other Internet search engines. Employers, friends, and lovers were able to stumble upon persons close to them, making it a deadly and lethal place for reputations. Additionally, MyEx.com was an Alexa rank sub-75,000 website, meaning this was a high-volume traffic website.

Thankfully, MyEx.com was shut down in January of 2018 by the FTC, but there are still several lessons and cautionary tales we can take away from the websites longevity on the web.

 

Defamation Law Fact: Online defamation is like a wildfire, the longer you leave it, the more likely it is to spread and embed itself in the depths of the Internet and its search results. Setting up a Google Alerts account is a proactive way to monitor and stay on top of your online reputation.

If you’ve been the victim of malicious attacks and online posts defaming your character and reputation, reach out to the revenge porn and defamation removal lawyers of Minc Law today.

At Minc Law, we boast a nearly 100% online defamation removal rate and all for a reasonable, flat fee. Aaron Minc and his team of defamation removal lawyers have secured hundreds of successful takedowns, and litigated in over 19 states and 3 countries, so rest assured, they know who to contact and how to work with them.

If you’d like to put a stop to the online abuse today, reach out to us to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation by calling us at (216) 373-7706 or schedule a meeting online.

The abuse stops today. The Defamation Lawyers of Minc Law are here to fight for your reputation.

 

What is Revenge Porn?

Also referred to as non-consensual pornography, revenge porn is the publishing of intimidate photos without the consent or permission of the photograph’s subjects. Revenge porn is actually a misnomer, as most times, there is no revenge or extortion motive at all – just ill-will and maliciousness.

In fact, most revenge porn cases involve parties who don’t even know each other and the sites in question have little to no connection to the victims. Look no further than the iCloud leaks of celebrities in 2014, where a collection of nearly 500 private celebrity pictures were leaked after targeted phishing attacks. The event was dubbed “The Fappening” and “Celebgate,” and was perpetrated by complete strangers.

A 2013 survey conducted by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative – a nonprofit organization fighting against revenge porn – shed further light on the very victims affected by non-consensual pornography. The survey encompassed over 350 victims, finding 90% of the victims were women, and almost 60% of the cases involved the posting of non-consensual photographs by an ex-boyfriend. Also, most of the victims had taken the photos themselves.

The impact on almost nearly every victim’s life was substantial, with over 82% citing that the publishing of such intimate photos had triggered significant hardship and impairment in their social or professional lives. Additionally, 42% sought psychological help, while 3% ended up legally changing their name.

Revenge porn is a form of cyber harassment and online bullying, and the effects are substantial because not only does it take a social and professional toll on persons, it is also emotionally damaging to victims.

 

Libel Removal Tip: Most people confuse the two core types of defamation; libel and slander. Libel is false written statement damaging another’s reputation, while slander is a false spoken statement. A libel-proof plaintiff is a person who is immune from a libel suit due to their poor reputation in the community, meaning even a defamatory statement made about them does not damage their already poor reputation in any way.

 

Characteristics of Revenge Porn Websites

MyEx.com and most revenge porn websites bill(ed) themselves as websites “driven by user-submitted content,” and recognize a near blanket immunity granted to them under landmark piece of legislation the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA).

Such legislation provides immunity for user-generated content platforms who merely facilitate the posting of content and don’t have a direct hand in the creation or posting of such explicit pictures. Furthermore, most of these sites sport a subsequent statement with a disclaimer stating the website isn’t responsible for content submitted by users.

As a result, most of these user-generated content platforms fail to take any preventative measures to protect innocent victims or discourage malicious individuals from submitting false and baseless reports. Additionally, some other inadequate and piecemeal characteristics of these sorts of website includes:

  • Minimal registration: Most revenge porn posters cower behind the anonymity of the Internet, and post such malicious content because they know legal recourse is slim to none in most cases. MyEx.com and other revenge porn websites often have bare minimum registration requirements, and sometimes don’t even require an email. MyEx.com claimed on its contact page that they did not keep any records of users who posts – specifically, no emails, IP addresses, or other info. Such failure to keep any information for a reasonable period of time made it a serious hotbed for defamation and non-consensual photography.
  • Content verification & monitoring: As such sites rely on protections under the CDA, they often do little to vet or monitor content posted. After all, it’s not their problem and most of these sites experience such a high volume of traffic and posts that it’s not practical for them to be constantly monitoring posts – as such, extremely invasive and illegal content often slips through the cracks. Additionally, revenge porn sites don’t even ask a user to certify information they post is consented to or accurate. Note that when MyEx.com was in existence, the requirement that submitted information be “accurate and current” only appeared on the website – 1600 words into the legal Terms of Use policy. Average readers are not combing tooth and nail to learn what they can and cannot post and don’t understand the actual implications (nor care) of such legalese.
  • Vague & non-existent takedown policies: Most revenge porn websites and other cheater websites state they won’t remove malicious, defamatory, or non-consensual information and photographs unless presented with a court order. This complicates matters for an ordinary victim who is unaware of the proper channels of recourse to remove such malicious photos and content.
  • Linking to social media profiles: Unfortunately with the rise of social media profiles came the integration of their use into malicious platforms. MyEx.com allowed online trolls and disgruntled former spouses to link victim social media profiles, catapulting the invasiveness to uncharted levels.
  • Encouragement of malicious posting: When first landing on the front page of MyEx.com and other revenge porn websites, they often try and communicate a catchy slogan, such as “Get revenge,” or something else that is malicious. Ultimately, such statements encourage users to post malicious and oftentimes illegal content – after all, the website says it’s alright, so why wouldn’t they?
  • Third-party arbitration services: It is also relatively common to see that most of these websites partner with third-party arbitration services who will guarantee the removal of the material. This is all good and well, except for the fact that the website often has a direct financial interest in that and is receiving kickbacks for referring such clients. As such, these sites are even more unethical than they first appear – and that’s hard to do. MyEx.com required users to send $399 to a service in the Philippines to have their illicit and non-consensual pornographic photos removed. It doesn’t get more sketchy than that.

 

Ohio Defamation Tip: Some statements are considered so inherently defamatory, that a plaintiff need not prove a required element of a defamation claim – damages. This is called ‘defamation per se’. Ohio adopts a rather broad definition of defamation per se and classifies it as “a statement or words susceptible to but one meaning,” an “opprobrious one,” and includes four types of statements – (1) a false statement charging a person with an indictable offense involving infamous punishment or moral turpitude, (2) a false statement imputing an offensive or contagious disease on a person, (3) a false statement injurious to a person’s trade or occupation, and (4) a false statement subjecting a person to public hatred, ridicule, or contempt.

Maybe the only thing that MyEx.com and other revenge porn websites have going for them is they often have the statement acknowledging that child pornography will not be tolerated in any circumstances. Child pornography is illegal in all 50 states and extensively codified.

MyEx.com’s former submission page read:

“MyEx.com has a zero-tolerance policy against child pornography. If we become aware of child pornography on our site, that content will be removed and we will report it and its submitter to the appropriate authorities.”

Although these malicious sites prohibit against child pornography, when you open up the floodgates for high volume submissions and already borderline to illegal photographs, sometimes child pornography can slip through the cracks. And, when MyEx.com and other revenge porn websites have such minimal registration requirements and retention of personal information, how exactly do you report a user to the authorities? With what information? There is no information to provide to relevant authorities.

 

Online Reputation Management Tip: It’s important to understand that most websites benefit from a blanket immunity granted to them under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – a landmark piece of internet legislation. Instead, when bringing a defamation claim, going after the malicious poster of the online defamation is often the best course of action.

If you’ve found an unverified, falsified, and defamatory post on MyEx.com or another spousal revenge site, reach out to the defamation lawyers of Minc Law today.

At Minc Law, Cleveland-based defamation lawyer Aaron Minc and his team of defamation removal lawyers boast a nearly 100% online defamation removal rate, and all for a flat, reasonable fee. Minc Law defamation lawyers know who to work with and how to contact them, and have extensive history working with site administrators, content managers, and third-party arbitration services – having secured hundreds of swift and permanent removals as a result.

To schedule a free, initial no-obligation consultation, call us at (216) 373-7706, or schedule a meeting online.

It’s time to take the first step towards stopping online abuse and restoring your reputation.

 

How Does Online Defamation Affect My Reputation?

Online defamation has potential to not only affect your personal reputation, but your professional reputation too. Online defamation doesn’t discriminate and can happen to anyone.

Just remember, proactivity is key when dealing with online defamation, therefore it’s important to stay vigilant and act as soon as you are alerted of any defamatory posts or content.

Unfortunately we live in a day and age when unfounded attacks and baseless information on the Internet is taken more seriously than word of mouth or in person conversations.

Below are just a few of the consequences that defamatory and libelous online comments and malicious attacks can have on your reputation.

  • Frayed and destroyed social relationships or loss of friends,
  • Loss of a job & future employment opportunities,
  • Failure to be considered for a promotion,
  • Ostracization and ridicule from the community,
  • Loss of sponsorships, scholarships, or other funding,
  • Difficulties in the character & fitness portion of professional licensing,
  • Loss of loyal customers & other business.
  • Having to close down your business.

 

On top of destruction of relationships and job opportunities, online defamation can also have severe consequences and effects on your physical health, including:

  • Anxiety, depression & low self-esteem,
  • Insomnia, physical illness, & paranoia, & even
  • Physical harm caused by third-parties.

 

Keep in mind that these are only just a few of the consequences and damages that online libel and defamation may cause. In reality, defamation can have lasting effects on literally every part of your life and how others perceive you. It really stands to break not only a person’s mental health, but physical health as well.

 

Defamation Law Fact: Common defenses to defamation of character claims include: (1) opinion, (2) truth, (3) consent, and (4) privilege (absolute & qualified). Remember that defamation occurs when a party makes a false statement of fact, and if the statement is true, then the plaintiff’s claim will likely fail.

Laws Against Revenge Porn on Sites Like MyEx.com

Revenge porn is still a relatively undeveloped area of law in the United States, and as of 2017, only 36 states and the District of Columbia have actually passed non-consensual pornography legislation – or are starting to pass legislation – to deal with this revenge porn phenomenon. Unfortunately, Ohio does not have any revenge porn laws in their books at the moment, but has made progress in proposing its implementation.

Oftentimes, states rely on non-revenge porn laws, such as defamation laws and privacy laws to combat it. However, there needs to be a specific and direct route towards seeking justice and holding malicious parties liable.

During MyEx.com’s reign of terror, U.S. revenge porn laws were still in their relative infancy, resulting in the following cases:

  • Missouri: After finding her pictures on MyEx.com, one Missouri woman obtained a restraining order against her abuser – her ex-husband – and lobbied for revenge porn law reform in Missouri after she discovered there were no specific laws criminalizing the posting of sexually explicit nude photos.
  • Washington: A Seattle man was convicted and ultimately sentenced to just one year in jail after posting nude photos of female clients on MyEx.com – which he obtained illegally. He was charged with stealing photos and stalking rather than under any revenge porn laws.

 

In October of 2013, California passed a law criminalizing revenge porn, making it a misdemeanor for individuals who took and circulated sexually explicit images of another person which were meant to be private and with the intent to harass or annoy the other person.

The penalty for committing such an egregious act? Up to a $1,000 dollar fine and six months of jail time.

A paltry sentence for an act that could possibly destroy someone’s life and reputation. Although California’s law criminalizing revenge porn was a step in the right direction towards protecting victims, and deemed relatively groundbreaking in certain respects, it has still received extensive criticism for its lack of breadth and reach. One of its most notable missing features was the oversight to include “selfies,” the most common form for sending intimate and private pictures.

It’s also not unheard of for revenge porn victims to take their life due to the overwhelming stress and embarrassment. Mary Anne Franks – a law professor and scholar – noted that the majority of all revenge porn laws in the U.S. are still severely flawed and inadequate. Most laws lay a minor framework for criminalizing revenge porn but fail to go that extra step – such as outlining how to remove the images in an effective and swift manner – they only serve to punish the person who submitted such images.

In order to move towards a healthier revenge porn legal ecosystem and framework, there needs to be comprehensive legislation outlining the revenge process from Point A to Point B – from the distribution of the picture to its removal.

 

Ohio Defamation Law Fact: Opposite to defamation per se is the legal principle of defamation per quod – also known as slander per quod and libel per quod – which exists when a statement is defamatory through innuendo and interpretation. Unlike defamation per se, which does not require a plaintiff to prove damages, defamation per quod requires plaintiffs to prove special damages and provide evidence of such damage.

 

If you’re curious about the various laws in effect in the U.S. criminalizing revenge porn and non-consensual pornography, check out our interactive state-by-state map and blog post here.

Don’t Let Someone’s Personal Vendetta Destroy Your Personal & Professional Life!

 

 

Stop the Online Abuse Today By Calling the Defamation Removal Lawyers of Minc Law!

If you’ve found false, baseless, or defamatory information and content about you on MyEx.com, the revenge porn removal lawyers of Minc Law will fight to have it removed from the Internet and search results.

At Minc Law, we boast a nearly 100% online defamation removal rate, and have secured hundreds of swift and permanent takedowns – spanning over 19 states and 3 countries. This is all for a flat, reasonable fee.

Cleveland-based attorney Aaron Minc and his team of reputation repair lawyers have extensive history removing online defamation and restoring online reputations, so rest assured you are in good hands.

Here’s what you can expect when working with Aaron and his team:

  • Courtesy & Respect: At Minc Law, we understand the effects online defamation can have on you and recognize it’s a stressful and overwhelming violation of your privacy. Just know, we are here to work with you, and will treat you with the utmost respect and courtesy. After all, your goals are our goals.
  • Constant Communication: We pride ourselves on our open lines of communication, and will make sure to keep you updated with the most up-to-date details of your case.
  • Results: Aaron and his team know how to get results. Having secured countless defamation and revenge porn removals – across 19 states and 3 countries – Aaron Minc and his team know who to contact and how to effectively work with them.

 

Reach out today to Aaron and his team of defamation and revenge porn removal lawyers to schedule a free, initial no-obligation consultation by calling (216) 373-7706, or by scheduling a meeting online.

 

 At Minc Law, we’re here to fight for your reputation.