‘Revenge porn’: Putting victims back in control

When someone shares intimate images of another person online without that person’s consent, the effects can be truly devastating. These gross violations of privacy are commonly (and unartfully) referred to as “revenge porn.” Unfortunately, revenge porn is on the rise across the globe. It can damage nearly every aspect of a victim’s life: relationships, career, social activities. In the most severe and tragic cases, it has even led to suicide.

Much needs to be done to address the problem. As a first step, 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, when we are notified by a victim. While people have been able to report to us in the past, we’ve set up a new reporting Web page, available today, to make it easy for victims to let us know about these particular photos and videos. It is available in English now and will be expanded to other languages in the coming weeks. When we remove links or content, we will do so globally.

Clearly, this reporting mechanism is but one small step in a growing and much-needed effort across the public and private sectors to address the problem. It’s important to remember, for example, that removing links in search results to content hosted elsewhere online doesn’t actually remove the content from the Internet – victims still need stronger protections across the Web and around the world.

Microsoft remains committed to continuing to work with leaders and experts worldwide on this evolving subject, and we expect to learn a great deal as the process moves forward. In the meantime, our hope is that by helping to address requests and to remove these extremely personal photos and videos from our services, we can better support victims as they work to re-claim their privacy, and help to push just a little further in the fight against this despicable practice.

For more information about the global problem of revenge porn, visit the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative or Without My Consent. To learn more about online safety generally, see our website and resources.

 

About the Author

Microsoft Chief Online Safety Officer