Reddit: We won’t tolerate revenge porn – and you shouldn’t either

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NEW YORK — I’m the head of community at Reddit, and I spent the start of this year learning as much as I could about revenge porn.

At Reddit, we see only a tiny part of the problem, maybe one or two images on a website. But that’s only a small part of what the victim goes through.

Once an image is on the Internet, it can be downloaded and posted to countless websites. Some make it nearly impossible to remove the images.

Or it’s a racket: Imagine having to pay $350 to have a nude image of yourself removed. Now imagine going through that process for months on end. Once photos spread, it becomes a game of whack-a-mole.

We did not want Reddit to be a part of that nightmare. We decided to take a public stance against the spreading of revenge porn and other non-consensual nude or sexualized images.

We had two main goals.

First, we wanted to make the process easier for victims to contact us and have the images removed. Having even one site be responsive, respectful, and quick to act can make a positive difference for victims.

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.)

If family finds out, it can damage relationships. Depression, anxiety, and isolation are common. In a worst case scenario, there is enough personal information to put the victim in physical danger.

Our second goal was to be preemptive — to discourage revenge porn before it starts. If we won’t tolerate it, maybe fewer people will follow through.

We announced the policy on Reddit on February 24. From then through March 30, we had 15 requests from victims of revenge porn. Since April 1, we have received two requests. Hopefully there will be zero in May.

One of our core values at Reddit is the protection of an individual’s privacy. When a person chooses to take sexual images, they expect to have control over who sees them. People are not expecting the person they share their most intimate selves with to betray them in such a dangerous way. It’s an invasion of privacy that isn’t equal to any other.

We were thrilled to see other companies, starting with Twitter, taking a stand against revenge porn soon after we did. Law enforcement is slow to catch up to technology. If you report revenge porn to police, the first thing an officer is likely to ask is, “Where did this take place?” And when your response is “The Internet,” it immediately becomes an uncharted territory. It’s important and necessary for us to take action when we are able and law enforcement is not.