This is not a game :: Revenge Porn Law & Social Media Prosecution

Recently, rapper and actor Curtis Jackson, better known as “50 Cent” was found liable to pay a victim $5 M for violating a civil law that made it illegal to distribute sexually explicit media without the consent of the individual involved in the media.  This law has been commonly referred to as targeting  “revenge porn” and with the growth of social media, laws are springing up around the country to provide a means of relief for victims of revenge porn.  

Simmons Law has talked about social media prosecution and revenge porn before.  Earlier this year, Attorney Simmons hosted a panel discussion called “Social Media Crimes:  Two Case Studies in the Prosecution of Online Harassment” where lawyers discussed two different cases where the revenge porn law was applied as a tool for prosecution.  The danger with laws targeting acts of revenge against others on social media lies in how widely interpreted they are by attorneys and judges, alike.  For instance,

  1. Not every state has a revenge porn specific law.  Some states have invasion of privacy laws or harassment laws which expands to acts  that don’t involve using explicit photos, but words.  In December 2014, a man was convicted under such a law for posting lyrics to a song that threatened the life of his ex-wife.   In essence, you can be charged under a “revenge porn” law for words that you post on social media – even if there are no pictures or videos.

  2. The word “revenge” is a bit of a misnomer.  The term “revenge porn” is generally used to indicate content uploaded to revenge porn websites by intimate partners with the intention of humiliating the partner depicted (hence “revenge” when uploaded by an ex-partner). But in reality, it doesn’t have to involve revenge at all.   In California, a man was convicted under the crime for hacking into people’s computers and posting photos of them in exchange for money.  Not only was he charged for extortion, but was also convicted under the revenge law – even though none of the photos were were women he ever dated or even knew.  In essence, you could be charged under this law by simply posting a photo that could be interpreted as being non consensual pornography even if you didn’t intend revenge or know the victim at all.

If you or someone you know has been charged under this law, please contact Simmons Law to discuss your case.  

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