Dear Just the Tips,
Recently when I was on Pornhub I ended up coming across a video that a female friend was in. Yes, I am 100% sure it is her and not just a similar looking person. I am pretty sure she wasn’t the one to post it. I am asking for help on how to handle the situation. Should I tell her it is up there? I feel she has a right to know so she can try to get it taken down if she wants. On the other hand, I don’t want to embarrass her by admitting I saw the video. If I tell her, are there any dos/don'ts for doing it? Besides the obvious don’t bring it up where other people can overhear. Any suggestions are appreciated.
Caught By Surprise
First of all, congratulations on your sensitivity. You’re clearly already on the right track regarding how to approach this. Direct conversation in any regard is a delicate issue.
In this moment, you have the power to greatly assist your friend, and I applaud you for wanting rise to the occasion. She has been put in a vulnerable position, presumably against her will. While I am not certain, it sounds like she may be the victim of a particularly cowardly and despicable act called “revenge porn.” Heard of it? Hopefully you haven’t had a reason to.
Basically, revenge porn is when nude photos or documentation of sexual acts are put online against the will of or without the knowledge of one or more of the parties. For a primer, check out John Oliver discussing it around minute six.
Women are usually the ones targeted with revenge porn, and it can be grueling to deal with it once it’s out there. Telling your friend will be the first step for her to start that process. This week half of my tips are for how to talk to her about the issue and half are from Anisha Vora, the victim outreach coordinator at EndRevengePorn.com. She has a guide for you on how to manage this situation.
TALK TO HER IN PRIVATE
Your impulse is right on here. Find a quiet moment over a cup of coffee, on a walk or after a meal to bring it up. There will be some embarrassment, and embarrassment takes up space. I would avoid talking to her about it in one of your homes. Neutral territory is better.
USE A LIGHT TOUCH
You don’t know the whole story, but you say it’s likely she didn’t put it there. One thing you both share at this moment is an awkward position—you outing yourself as a porn watcher and her unwittingly being exposed online. I suggest you open the conversation by establishing your own vulnerability so that hers stings a bit less.
KNOW THE LAW
Over 20 states have criminalized revenge porn. It may be worth having this information at your fingertips when you speak with her. Depending on your location, she may have some legal sway in this matter if it was put up on a site against her will or filmed without her knowledge.
Make it clear that you recognize that what you’ve discovered is personal information and that you do not intend to share it with anybody except her.
OFFER TO HELP
One of the worst things about being the victim of somebody else’s malice is the shame and loneliness that can come with that.
ANISHA’S STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO DEALING WITH REVENGE PORN
An important step is to capture screen shots of everything and save to a folder on your computer. Get screen shots of the website’s pages, results from a Google search of your name, plus any texts, messages, friend requests or emails you received as a result of the posting. Then print everything. This will serve as your evidence.
If you took the pictures, you own the copyright to them. To further protect yourself you can take the extra step and register your images with the Register of Copyright. Copyright gives you the authority to demand sites remove your images based on copyright infringement (also known as a DMCA takedown).
You can ask Google to remove your sensitive personal information, like your bank account number, or an image of your handwritten signature, or a nude or sexually explicit image or video of you that’s been shared without your consent, from its search results.
For removing one’s name from a pornographic site.
For removing non-consensual explicit imagery.
If you are being harassed on Facebook, this link has comprehensive reporting instructions.
If your images have been posted to Facebook, and you took the pictures, you can request that they be removed by filling out its DMCA (copyright infringement) form located here.
This document has instructions on how to adjust your Facebook settings for privacy.
If someone has posted your private information to Twitter you can get help by filling out the privacy form.
If your images have been posted to Twitter, and you took the pictures, you can request that they be removed by filling out its DMCA (copyright infringement) form.
If you just want the images/videos gone, you can hire a takedown service to have the images removed. DMCA Defender is a thorough and efficient takedown service. Mention that the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative referred you, and your case will receive priority attention.
If you want to submit your own DMCA takedown notices, this website has comprehensive instructions.
You may need to find contact information for the site owner. You can do this by searching the domain name on DomainTools.com. You want to contact the site owner and the host, not the “registrar” shown on the whois info.
You’re a good friend, Caught By Surprise. Talking to her is absolutely the right thing to do. Go forth with certainty.
Just the Tips is Playboy.com’s weekly advice column, with professional matchmaker Katherine Cooper. Have a question for Katherine about sex, love or dating? Shoot her a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.