What do Internet companies do against revenge porn? Which has the best approach?

Revenge porn is a phenomenon that is on the rise on the Web. Each year more and more people are victims, most of them women. And many victims have limited knowledge of what they can do to remove the content that was posted without their consent. In order to help, we published a series of tutorials that shares how to report and remove such content from several online services that are offered by Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter. Today, we would like to compare what these companies do against revenge porn and how effective their approach is in solving this problem. We have quite some interesting data to share with you, so let's get started:

What is revenge porn?

Revenge porn, otherwise known as non-consensual pornography, is when someone distributes nude or sexually explicit materials of you, online. That someone can be your ex-boyfriend, your ex-girlfriend or any other person who has naked pictures or videos with you and wants to use them to blackmail or shame you. Revenge porn is one of the nastiest online behaviors and, if you fall prey to it, it can affect you on multiple levels, both personally and professionally, sometimes with devastating effects.

CCRI ran a survey on their EndRevengePorn.com website during August 2012 and December 2013 . They then published a really wellmade infographic, that shows some very interesting facts about revenge porn. It's not as uncommon as you might think:

  • "1 in 10 ex-partners have threatened that they would expose risque photos of their ex online."
  • "60 percent of those who threatened to expose intimate photos followed through on their threats. In addition to explicit images, perpetrators post other identifying information [...] resulting in harassment of victims."
  • "90 percent of non consensual porn victims [...] were women. 93 percent [...] suffered significant emotional distress [...]. 49 percent [...] have been harassed or stalked online by users who saw their material."

Embedded from End Revenge Porn

How does the Internet respond to revenge porn?

Sadly, the Internet is the perfect means for sharing revenge porn content. Some countries and states are taking slow steps in creating laws that address this problem and it will take a couple of years until we have worldwide legislation that's effective in doing something about this problem.

The good news comes from the Internet itself: the largest IT companies in the World decided to take this problem in their own hands. Google and Microsoft, who operate the two largest search engines (Google and Bing), as well as Facebook and Twitter, who run the largest social media networks, have all pledged to fight against revenge porn.


"La grande Epidemie de PORNOGRAPHIE" by La_grande_Epidemie_de_PORNOGRAPHIE.gif: 19th century French engraver, reprinted in Karikatur Album II, page 332; by C. E. Jensen; København MDCCCCXII

derivative work: Lošmi ( talk ) - La_grande_Epidemie_de_PORNOGRAPHIE.gif. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

What do Internet companies do against revenge porn?

Let's see what tools are offered by some of the most important Internet companies, in the fight against revenge porn:

Google on revenge porn issues

On June 19th, 2015, Google was the first major player from the Internet who decided it is time to fight revenge porn more aggressively. You can read their blog post, here: "Revenge porn" and Search.

"[...] revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims—predominantly women. So going forward, we'll honor requests from people to remove nude or sexually explicit images shared without their consent from Google Search results [...]"

As of July 9, 2015, Google offers a dedicated web form which you can use to submit revenge porn removal requests. We covered all the details on how to use this form, here: How to report revenge porn to Google.

Microsoft on revenge porn issues

On July 22nd, 2015, Microsoft published a blog post about their stand against revenge porn, which you can find here: 'Revenge porn': Putting victims back in control.

"[...] we want to help put victims back in control of their images and their privacy. That's why Microsoft will remove links to photos and videos from search results in Bing, and remove access to the content itself when shared on OneDrive or Xbox Live [...]"

Starting then, Microsoft also offers a new revenge porn reporting web page. You will find all the details on how to use it to report revenge porn to Microsoft, here: How to report revenge porn to Microsoft and Bing.

Facebook on revenge porn issues

Facebook has never been a friend of any kinds of abuses, and that obviously includes revenge porn. You can find their policy here: Community Standards.

"[...] We remove content that threatens or promotes sexual violence or exploitation. [...] we also remove photographs or videos depicting incidents of sexual violence and images shared in revenge or without permissions from the people in the images. Our definition of sexual exploitation includes solicitation of sexual material, any sexual content involving minors, threats to share intimate images, and offers of sexual services. Where appropriate, we refer this content to law enforcement. [...]"

Reporting any kind of inappropriate or offensive content on Facebook is very easy and involves only a few clicks. You can find detailed information on how to do it, here: How to report revenge porn to Facebook.

Twitter on revenge porn issues

Twitter is one of the most popular social networks in the World. They have also joined the fight against revenge porn, even if they are slightly "hesitant" about it. Here's their official policy on private information posted on their social network:

"[...] When we receive a complete and valid report that private information has been posted on Twitter, we'll investigate the account and Tweets reported. We will review where, if anywhere, the information has been made publicly available before taking action on the account or Tweets. If the information you reported was previously posted elsewhere on the Internet, it is not a violation of our policy and we will not take action. [...]"

If you find yourself in need of reporting revenge porn content, you can use Twitter's exposed private information web form. For further help and guidance, check our article: How to report revenge porn to Twitter.

Comparing what Microsoft, Google, Facebook & Twitter do against revenge porn

Since these four IT companies control most of our online activities on the Web, we couldn't help comparing them. Here's what's different about their approach to fighting revenge porn:

If you'll take a close look at the table above, it's obvious that the best approach to fighting revenge porn is that of Microsoft and Facebook.

Google and Twitter also have policies and fighting mechanisms, but:

  • Google removes revenge porn materials only from Google search results. They should do the same thing for revenge porn files that are stored on Google Drive, Blogger and so on. Google owns many online services and they should provide the tools to fight revenge porn on all of them, not only their search engine. If Microsoft can do this, Google can too.
  • Twitter has a lackluster policy when it comes to private information tweeted on their social platform. If you report revenge porn to them, they will delete the tweets containing it and they will block the accounts that were used to tweet the content, but only if those revenge porn images or videos didn't previously appear somewhere else on the Internet. Therefore, if someone tweets revenge porn content stored on OneDrive or Google Drive, Twitter will probably do nothing to prevent it from being distributed on Twitter.

Our view on how these companies handle revenge porn

It's good to see that some of the biggest names in the IT world have decided to fight against revenge porn. After all, they have a huge influence on the Web and how content is distributed online. If they let revenge porn spread and they do nothing to stop it, it's as if they are supporting acts of terror . Most people agree with the saying: " The liberty of one citizen ends where the liberty of another citizen begins". Revenge porn is, simply put, an act of terror that harms others in powerful ways.

We believe that the tools that are currently available are a decent start but they are not enough. While we appreciate what Microsoft and Facebook are doing, Google and Twitter should do more. Especially Twitter. Also, other online companies and services should follow suit and offers easy to use tools for removing such content.

A good approach is for the Internet largest companies to unite on this issue and offer a common platform for reporting and dealing with revenge porn materials. It would make the life of victims a lot easier.

What do you think about they way revenge porn is handled by Internet companies?

We wrote a lot on this subject and now we have concluded our series. Before you go, don't hesitate to share with us your view on the matter of revenge porn and the tools that are available to remove it. Do you think that they are effective? What else could companies do to help victims? Leave your comments below and let's start a discussion.