Revenge porn websites feature explicit photos posted by ex-boyfriends, ex-husbands and ex-lovers, often accompanied by disparaging descriptions and identifying details, like where women live and work, as well as links to their Facebook pages, says the New York Times. The sites are largely immune to criminal pursuit, but that may be changing. California legislators this month passed the first law aimed at revenge porn sites. It would make some forms of revenge posting a misdemeanor punishable by jail time or a hefty fine.
The effects of the websites can be devastating. Victims say they have lost jobs, been approached in stores by strangers who recognized their photographs, and watched close friendships and family relationships dissolve. Some have changed their names or altered their appearance. “Sometimes I want to get into a fetal position and cry,”said Marianna Taschinger, 23, of Groves, Tx., who is suing an ex-boyfriend who posted nude pictures of her. She gave up her job at a restaurant and was stalked by a man who sat outside her house in a car. When victims call police, they are told there is little to be done. Lawsuits sometimes exact payments from men who post photographs or succeed in shutting down a site. Once the images are online they spread, picked up by dozens or even hundreds of other Web sites.