So You’re Worried That You’re On A Revenge Porn Site

With the increase in media attention to the involuntary or “revenge” porn phenomena, I’ve received a number of emails and phone calls from people who are worried that their photos might be on a revenge porn site or floating around on this great big internet of ours.  (This is a different issue than someone who knows that they’re posted on a site.)

If you fall into the category of uncertainty, I probably can’t help you.  I can help track the people who own a site or, sometimes, the people who posted photos to a site, but if there’s no starting point — a website address or an image — you’re probably in a better position than I am to find out whether your images are floating around somewhere.

But I thought I’d share the advice I’ve given to people who are worried about this possibility

If you think — but don’t know — that you might be on a ‘revenge’ or ‘involuntary’ porn site:

1. You’re probably not.

Most victims — particularly if they’re women — learn pretty quickly that they’re posted to a revenge porn site.  This comes through the oh-so-comforting messages from total strangers who found their photos on a site, which, more often than not, also posts their phone numbers or links to their social media accounts.  If you haven’t received subliterate, online catcalls from total strangers (or, rather, more annoying messages than usual), you’re probably not posted on one of these sites.

That’s not to say it’s impossible: photos may have been posted under another name (although that would defeat the purpose of most people who post nude photos, as they want to embarrass you and subject you to a flood of harassment by random basement dwellers).  But if the photos are posted under another name (or no name at all), it’s less likely that a future employer or friend will find the photos. 1

2.  Search!

If you’re still worried that your photos may be floating around the digital ether somewhere, you can always look into the void and try to find an answer to this question.

There aren’t many dedicated revenge porn sites. I won’t name them all here (as I don’t want to drive more traffic to them or give them attention, unless attention hurts them.  You can search a particular website for your own name by going to Google and searching for “site:[sitename.com] [your name]” without the brackets.  That will limit search results to only your name on a given domain name.

There are a plethora of here-one-day-deleted-the-next blogs and tumblr profiles 2 dedicated to posting user-submitted, ‘amateur’ photos.  Often these sites won’t include the name of the person pictured — the ‘revenge’ in an involuntary post is generally one of self-satisfaction to the poster, rather than employing the internet’s subsociopaths to harass the victim. 3  To rule out this possibility, there are two options.  First, you can search Google 4 for your name.  If your name is somewhat common, you can add words like “nude” to the search.  The second option is to run an image search.

[Note: when running Google searches, make sure to turn off ‘safe search’, as keeping this on will usually hide results from adult sites.]

3.  Run an image search.

If you have a copy of the actual photograph that you suspect may have been posted online, you can use a reverse image search tool.  These tools, like Tineye and Google Images, allow someone to search using an image, rather than words.  Thus, you can upload the photo (which won’t be made public by the search engine) and search a database of images.  The tool will return the same or similar photos, allowing you to find out whether a particular photo is online somewhere.

4.  Monitor and Be Vigilant

If you’re concerned that photos haven’t been posted, but might eventually be posted, you can set up a Google Alert in your own name.  This tool allows you to get an email every time a page containing your name is added to Google’s search index.  To do this, create an alert with your name in quotes and set the “how many” option to “all results.”

If you have a common name, you may want to create alerts similar to (including the quotation marks):

“Your full name” nude

“Your full name” naked

5.  So you’ve been posted.  What now?

If it turns out your photos are somewhere, what do you do?

Every situation is unique and I can’t (and won’t) offer you legal advice.  You may want to talk to a lawyer about your options.  Most lawyers will give you a free consultation.  If you can’t afford a lawyer and are looking for legal help, feel free to contact me and I’ll see if I can find someone to help you, although I can’t guarantee success.

You may also want to check out the resources on WomenAgainstRevengePorn.com and EndRevengePorn.com.

Notes:

  1. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t be harmful or grounds for distress, but it could be worse.  I understand this is a “but there are starving children in Africa” fallacy.
  2. tumbles? tumblers? tumbs?
  3. Even if a name isn’t attached, the poster may often send the victim a link to the post, so that she or he knows they’ve been posted, even if most viewers don’t know who they are.
  4. Or, if you’re the type who used AOL until recently, Bing.com
  • TheBrett

    Thanks for posting those resources, and other ones on revenge porn.

  • Barbra Midkiff

    Yes thank you. It is refreshing to find someone who takes this matter seriously The misogyny of women is disgraceful. Most of those posted on these sites are women. Thank you Mr. Adam Steinbaugh

  • Michael Graves

    You are top notch Adam! Thank you !