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14-Year-Old Girl Sues Facebook For Failing To Remove Revenge Porn

By October 14, 2016February 20th, 2020No Comments

Revenge porn has long been an issue on pretty much every social media platform, but hopefully, it may not be Facebook’s problem for too much longer.

The Guardian reports that Facebook is involved in a tense legal battle after nude images of a 14-year old girl were not permanently blocked by the social media giant. The young girl involved claims that Facebook demonstrated negligence by not doing enough to keep the explicit photo off their platform. She is claiming damages from Facebook and also taking legal action against the man who repeatedly posted the picture on a ‘shame page’ as an act of revenge. The case has made headlines worldwide because of how it could set a precedent moving forward that social media companies will be held accountable to properly deal with explicit images and revenge porn.

Related: Italian Woman Commits Suicide One Year After Sex Tape Unexpectedly Goes Viral

Just last week, a high court judge rejected Facebook’s attempt to have the case thrown out, which means the case is officially going to a full trial. The girl’s lawyers say the photograph–which they claim was taken from her through blackmail–was removed by Facebook several times after being reported but was never permanently blocked, allowing it to resurface. Facebook has a software tool called PhotoDNA that tracks and identifies images automatically, and the girl’s lawyers say this method should have been used to keep the photo from popping back up.

The case has already resulted in other victims of revenge porn seeking advice about whether they too could have grounds for legal action, according to Paul Tweed, media lawyer and senior partner at a law firm.

“A case like this risks opening the floodgates for other civil cases to be taken against Facebook and other social media sites,” he said. “We’ve already seen an increase in the number of people calling to find out more. I can see it being a very real problem for all the social media sites going forward.”

Defining revenge porn

What exactly is revenge porn? Revenge porn sites are basically just like any other porn site, except for one major, scary difference: the pictures are of regular everyday people who once sent naked or sexually explicit pictures/videos of themselves to someone they trusted, only to later have those images posted online for all to see, almost always without their knowledge and definitely without their permission. To put it simply, revenge porn is one version of non-consensual porn.

One victim of revenge porn was a girl who sent naked pictures of herself to her boyfriend. Several months and a bad breakup later, the boyfriend decided to get his ex-girlfriend back by posting those pictures on revenge porn websites that could then be viewed, downloaded, and saved. Getting those pictures back off the internet is basically like getting a grain of sand back from the ocean. It’s impossible. Once something is on the world wide web, it’s pretty much out there for good. When this sensitive and personal material is available for all the world to see, the effects can be devastating.

Related: Diving Into the Disturbing World of Revenge Porn

In a most recent example, an Italian woman named Tiziana Cantone sent an explicit video to her ex-boyfriend and three of her trusted friends in the spring of 2015. Not long after, the video found its way online, reaching Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a variety of hardcore porn sites. The video clip went viral on social media in her home country and she became the source of targeted harassment and mockery. Unable to handle the inescapable social media wave of bullying caused by the revenge porn, Tiziana later committed suicide in her aunt’s home.

Why this matters

This lawsuit has the potential to completely change how social media companies deal with and monitor explicit material. Typically, websites like Facebook have been viewed as a platform that is not fully responsible for what its users post, but if the courts rule in favor of the 14-year-old girl in this case, social media companies will be held accountable for the content posted. A domino effect could begin, leading to a decrease in the offensive and inappropriate material found not only on Facebook, but also on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

This ruling would also help people see exactly how much damage revenge porn can do and show perpetrators that it is a serious crime with serious consequences. In the case of this young girl, she was ridiculed, embarrassed, and harassed because of the images that were posted without her consent. And, unfortunately, she is not the first and she won’t be the last.

Related: Florida Teen Commits Suicide After Being Snapchatted In Shower

Many have suffered the humiliation and shame associated with their most personal and private images being available to the eyes of anyone with an internet connection. This case could change that.

In this fight for real love, it would be encouraging to see Facebook use their powerful technology to actively eliminate revenge porn and the resulting emotional and social damage that it inflicts. In our generation of sexting and revenge porn, the consequences of pressing send or posting something on social media can be life-altering, and we can fight to end that demand and promote positivity and love instead.

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