I've been working on a series about revenge porn for months. For this series, we explore what revenge porn is, who it impacts, and how people are preventing it. In this series, I speak to victims and lawyers -- even a hacker who stole nude photos of women. We look at this growing form of harassment. Check out the full series here: http://money.cnn.com/technology/revenge-porn/index.html Proof: https://twitter.com/LaurieSegallCNN/status/593440568165933057

Comments: 389 • Responses: 35  • Date: 

JumpinJehosaphats991 karma

Ugh.. Those revenge porn sites are so terrible. But there are so many of them, what websites did you investigate?

LaurieS1285199 karma

I'd rather not put them out there for people to click on. I looked at a number of sites on the open web. There are a handful of known ones. I also had a security researcher show me some of the darker revenge porn sites on the dark web. It was pretty awful. Women had their webcams hacked and people could buy access to live shows. The women were being blackmailed into performing for an audience on the dark web. There was also a trade going on where people could upload their own images and get free access, or pay $55 to buy access.

Theory558 karma

You mention the "dark web", do you mean Tor Services? Or did they use other technologies to create those anonymous servers, sites and infrastructure?

LaurieS128553 karma

Tor services!

kerelberel8 karma

How are the women blackmailed if only their webcams are hacked? Do those people have access to their bank account and friends as well? Threatening to expose their photos or steal their money?

LaurieS128526 karma

Sometimes hackers will record images and then threaten to expose those images, send to parents, post on FB. Victims feel forced to comply.

pherring119 karma

What brought you to investigate revenge porn?

LaurieS1285146 karma

We were set to interview a woman who was a victim of revenge porn. As we heard her story, we realized it was a bigger problem and wanted to take a deep dive into. It was interesting to learn about the laws, how people react to this type of harassment, the limited resources etc.

LateralThinkerer40 karma

Are there instances of revenge porn against men?

LaurieS128578 karma

There are. It can happen to both men and women. Most of the content I saw of women but I spoke to a lawyer who is representing a male victim and there are definitely men on some of the sites.

TomLube-1 karma


LaurieS12854 karma

you should ask the head of community at reddit. From her op-ed: "Since images are often accompanied by personal information, the economic and emotional costs can be enormous. If clients or colleagues find out, it can damage a woman's career. (And make no mistake: Almost all victims of revenge porn are women.)" http://money.cnn.com/2015/04/26/technology/reddit-revenge-porn/index.html

Eternally6599 karma

If a victim of revenge porn never finds out about the porn, how likely is it to be taken down? In other words, do friends / acquaintances / family of a victim notify the victim, or just turn away in embarrassment?

LaurieS1285133 karma

Some of the women we met were informed by their friends that they were naked on the web. Pretty awful call to take. I don't think many women on the sites we looked at actually knew they were on those sites. That's pretty scary. Some are informed by friends, others are informed when they google their name, apply for a job. It ranges

happyskittles62 karma

What advice do you have for someone like myself (a 21 year old girl) to protect myself from something like this happening?

I'm sure there's more to just "don't take nude pics of yourself". Thanks!

LaurieS128586 karma

Sure. Easy to say don't take a nude photo of yourself. But now there are hackers that can turn on your webcam and record you. First of all, let's state the obvious - be careful who you share photos with. Operate under the assumption that privacy and our concept of privacy is changing. But digging in a bit - you can put tape over your webcam, be REALLY careful about clicking on links or spam. If you don't know the person sending it, be careful. This is how malware is installed on your computer. If you are going to share photos of yourself, just remember that every time a company like snapchat has deemed the service safe, we've had moment where we realized our images could be stored. If I were you, I would be really careful about taking pictures and sending them to someone, even if I trusted them. I'm a tech reporter so a bit paranoid.

sig_sour60 karma

Easy to say don't take a nude photo of yourself.

This is truly the only good advice you can give.

But now there are hackers that can turn on your webcam and record you.

This has been possible since webcams were invented. All systems/devices contain security vulnerabilities and they always will. Trusting your webcam to only be on when you want it to be on is no different than being surprised that your uploaded nudes were compromised in an iCloud hack.

There is no such thing as completely safe/secure online content if the media is accessible. There is always a chance it will be compromised.

LaurieS128518 karma

I think we're just now as a society beginning to understand that and reimagine privacy :(

Cyborg_rat37 karma

My dad is in communication branch in the army And always covers the webcams or has tape over the one on his laptop...

I got a older web cam(fusion) and it has a nice built in cover that hides it and he would alway close it if i forgot it open.

LaurieS128512 karma

good idea.

atpeters2150 karma

What laws exist to regulate this? Do you see this issue gaining traction in state and federal legislatures?

LaurieS128569 karma

States are just now beginning to pass laws criminalizing revenge porn. 17 as of today. But it's really hard if this happens to you. Because this is relatively new territory, it can be hard to prosecute and get your pictures off the web. You can file a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. You have to own the copyright in order to try to get some of these sites to take down images. Here's where things get weird - if you want to get the copyright, you have to send the naked photo that's on the web to the copyright office in Washington. That's just how it works. So you actually have to send naked pics there in order to get the copyright, in order to try to get the site to take it down. They don't have special rules if you're a victim of revenge porn. We interviewed a woman who had to copyright her nude images. She felt pretty violated. But that's how the law works unless there are some changes made. Story here: http://money.cnn.com/2015/04/26/technology/copyright-boobs-revenge-porn/

Sunkil47 karma

Out of all the porn that is available on the internet, it seems that a lot of the pictures and videos seem to be 'staged' as a sort of revenge porn in order to entice viewers into thinking it's real or just to set itself apart from regular scripted porn. How much of this do you think is actually revenge porn and how much is just porn?

LaurieS128544 karma

Good question but tough one to answer. Some of the photos on the dark web I saw were pretty awful. Possible they could have been staged. But can't give concrete answer on that

LaurieS128531 karma

Hey guys - thanks for the questions. I'll come back to this thread a bit later and answer any other questions you have. Follow me on Twitter (@LaurieSegallCNN) for updates on when I'll be on TV with these stories. Also -watch/read the series when you get the chance. What do you think of it? I'd love to know. Will be back later to check in. http://money.cnn.com/technology/revenge-porn/index.html

wetazn4u666925 karma

Do you think that the easy access of porn via the internet is changing younger peoples minds about what is publicly acceptable in terms of nudity and sexual behavior? Also fuck, marry, kill: eggs, bacon, pancakes?

LaurieS128541 karma

I think there's a huge shift happening online. There's so much available, younger people are exposed to quite a bit at an earlier age. I worry that sometimes behind a computer, people can become desensitized. They may lose a sense of empathy. When I interviewed the revenge porn hacker, he said it just didn't feel real when he broke into a woman's inbox. That struck me as interesting. He said he would never have done it if he had to look at these women in person. I think the internet has made people more open to certain things regarding nudity and sexual behavior, but it also comes at a price. Also - um - marry, pancakes?

Frajer20 karma

What inspires people to post revenge porn?

LaurieS128538 karma

I think it varies. I'm no psychiatrist but I'd say revenge is a part of human nature. but some people take it to a different level. I think it's inspired by anger, hurt, a desire to humiliate and control.

cyberkrist16 karma

Do you feel that if society removed it's irrational taboo centered around, sex, porn, and nudity that revenge porn would still be an issue?

LaurieS128542 karma

I do. I think at the end of the day, some of the themes I've seen when it comes to revenge porn are shaming, control, humiliation, a lack of empathy. Putting photos of people out there without their consent is violating and even if we make sex and porn less taboo, I think those themes when applied to revenge porn will remain

toomanyhashtags15 karma

For anyone who isn't familiar with Laurie, she's pretty awesome:

Sex, Drugs & Silicon Valley series (CNN)
Related iAMA

But back on topic: how did you manage to get an interview with Charlie Evans? Did you believe what he had to say, or were there parts that stuck out or seemed suspect? If the interview was set up through his lawyer, I sense that he's trying to set the tone with his "off my bipolar meds" comment.

Also, did you ever figure out what the loophole was?

(Charlie Evans interview for reference)

LaurieS12859 karma

Hey -- It wasn't through his lawyer. I found out his number and called bunch of times. He finally answered. I asked if we could record and he was alright with it. It almost felt like he wanted to get it off his chest. I was pretty hard on him in the interview and it seemed like he answered honestly. He seemed pretty aware of what he did. He talked about addiction and meds, how he was hacking when he was drinking and in a bad place. that is certainly not an excuse AT ALL. It did seem pretty honest. He called himself a monster. It was really interesting. I have a feeling his lawyer would have advised him not to talk to me.

chinny-chin-chin15 karma

Do you plan to interview people who view and pay for revenge porn?

LaurieS128523 karma

I didn't. We interviewed a hacker that got paid to steal photos for a site but it would be really interesting to talk to someone who views and pays for it. Do you know anyone?

drake072714 karma

Has there been any cases where you talked to where a male was the victim?

LaurieS128552 karma

From what a gather, a majority of the cases are women. That being said, there are definitely male victims too. I spoke to a lawyer representing a man who is a revenge porn victim.

loganWHD5 karma

Laurie on some of the sites I showed you there are many men too that are victims. Yes, it happens but is much more often female victims.

LaurieS128517 karma

Certainly can be a problem for both.

Ozymandias6613 karma

Do you think it's possible to remove something from the internet? Once a picture is out there, there is no controlling where it goes.

LaurieS128517 karma

People can really try and potentially have some luck. But it's hard once these photos are out there and they're picked up by third party sites. If you are able to get the photo down early on, you may have better luck. Many of the women I interviewed have set up a google alert for their names. As the pictures pop up, they file takedown notices. Once something is out there on the web, it's VERY hard to make it go away.

squopmobile13 karma

Are there hacks that can turn a webcam on without giving any indication to the owner/user that its on? Like disabling the power-indicator light or whatever?

LaurieS128523 karma

Yes. There's malware available that enables hackers to do with. Miss teen USA was a victim years ago. A hacker installed malware known as "blackshades" on her computer. The tools to do this are bought and sold on the dark web. There are even hotlines and rent-a-hackers. That's why it's more important than ever not to click on a link if you don't know where it's coming from. Or put tape over your camera.

redditbrowser4209 karma

Has anyone ever uploaded Revenge porn of you?

LaurieS128518 karma

Thankfully no.

squopmobile9 karma

Is it legal to click on some of those dark-web sites? Did you take steps to protect yourself legally before clicking?

LaurieS128519 karma

We had to be very careful about this. We didn't click on any of the photos. Just saw the website. We didn't download because then we would be in possession of some material that might not be legal.

squopmobile5 karma

So the images might be the result of an illegal activity but viewing them isn't? :/

loganWHD9 karma

squopmobile actually I worked with LaurieS1285 on this story so I hope I am not out of line, but if you click and view on an image of rape, or abuse and it happens to be of someone under 18 you are committing a crime and that image is now on your computer.

Be very cautious and best to avoid this filth all together.

squopmobile5 karma

Yeah, warning not needed, but thanks! :) You can't know what's going to show up on a page when you type a URL and hit enter though. Did you have the legal department on board is what I'm getting at, really. Or would a journalist's credentials be an adequate defence if it came to that?

LaurieS128511 karma

we had a lot of internal discussions about this before. We wanted to be 100% sure we weren't breaking the law. We wanted to raise awareness and let people know this exists. Not break a law.

darren549 karma

Can someone please create a superhero(ine) who finds these guys and kick them insanely hard in the balls?

Seriously though have you heard any stories of revenge on the perpetrators of this crime?

LaurieS128514 karma

I love the idea of a revenge porn superhero(ine). I haven't heard of people getting actual revenge on their perpetrators. In doing all this research, we found that there are some pretty badass women getting in front of the issue. There are women who've been victims who are now speaking out against the issue. Check out Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. They are working to change things. There's a law firm taking on many of these cases pro bono. See our story below: http://money.cnn.com/2015/04/26/technology/copyright-boobs-revenge-porn/

One of the women we interviewed got the best revenge: she says she's been through it all and after everything, has learned to love herself in a way she never had before.

ofcrazed9 karma

You mentioned web cam hacking as a means to gain pictures. How common is this?

LaurieS128510 karma

I don't know how common this is. It would be difficult to tell. The security researcher we spoke to says he's seeing more of it and there's now a market for it. But it's hard to get actual numbers. That's because it could be happening without someone realizing it. If a women is aware and being blackmailed, she might be afraid to come forward.

Mr_E136 karma

Whatever happened to twitter-famous Hunter Moore?

LaurieS12851 karma

He took a plea deal. I believe his sentencing is in June

bootynuggets1 karma

Can't click on any of those links because of my current environment (maybe I shouldn't even have clicked the one to this AMA...), but are you familiar with Hunter Moore and his old site isanyoneup? If you do, what do you think of that whole ordeal?

LaurieS12855 karma

I have. As part of the series, I actually spoke with Charlie Evens who was the guy that hacked for Hunter Moore. You can listen to my interview with him here http://money.cnn.com/2015/04/26/technology/charlie-evens-revenge-porn-hacker/

In general, before I did this, I didn't realize that these online communities really existed. It was interesting to get the other side too - to speak with a guy who actually hacked into women's inboxes and sold photos to hunter moore.

satsujin_akujo0 karma

A few posters have asked if you ever found revenge porn on Men; I don't see an answer - you found none? Or is this about something else?

LaurieS12852 karma

Hey - there are some posts on the sites I've seen. Also - i spoke with a lawyer who is representing a man who was a victim of revenge porn. While it's simple to say this happens to women more frequently, it wouldn't be right for me to say it doesn't happen to men. It certain does.

LatenightSurfer-3 karma

Are you Jennifer Lawrence in disguise?

LaurieS12854 karma

I'm not.

Killingtimeatwork101-12 karma


LaurieS12853 karma

Sorry dude. not going there