FOX19 Investigates: Revenge Porn ruins young lives - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

FOX19 Investigates: Revenge Porn

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Google your name and you might be shocked by what you find.

Hackers and jilted lovers are uploading explicit photos of their exs to revenge porn websites. Once shared consensually, the photos are instead used to humiliate.

"We were in a long-distance relationship, we shared intimate photos of each other back and forth," alleged revenge porn victim Holly Jacobs told CNN.

Jacobs said after she and her boyfriend broke up, he uploaded nude photos of her without her consent. Jacobs began an online petition and founded a website, called endrevengeporn.org, to end the practice. Victims claim exposure of x-rated photos can cost jobs and destroy relationships and cause emotional damage.

"He posted these pictures with my full name, my email address, the school that I attended, my place of work and it was just terrible," she said.

Revenge porn sites feature intimate, often sexual images. They are sometimes accompanied by names, addresses, links to Facebook and a section where strangers can leave lewd comments.

We combed through several sites and found dozens of explicit images of victims in the tri-state area, many of them viewed thousands of times.

Revenge porn sites make no apologies. On one site - click "remove my name," and it links to another site where for $499, the company will "minimize the visibility" of the photos in cyberspace. In other words, knock it down beyond your first Google search page. However, even the sites have disclaimers that they can't remove the photos.

Only two states, New Jersey and California, have "revenge porn" laws on the books. Some argue the law in California doesn't go far enough. If someone posts a photo they take of you they can face charges, but if they post a photo you took yourself and then sent them, the law doesn't apply.

Three other states, New York, Maryland and Wisconsin, are considering laws that would criminalize the practice. Civil libertarians argue laws against revenge porn sites would violate the first amendment.

It's the tech-addicted millennial generation that suffers most from this form of revenge. Many, if not most images on these sites, are "selfies" – photos someone takes and sends electronically to someone else.

"The horror stories they tell you at school," said Kitty Defalco, a student at the University of Cincinnati. "Don't send nude pix because that can get spread around and hurt people's feelings."

A few years ago, researchers at the University of Cincinnati's School of Criminal Justice looked into sexting and its consequences. They surveyed almost 100 students 18 to 24 years old. Thirty-eight percent admitted they either sent or received sexually-explicit images. 

"Some view it as an acceptable behavior and some view it as wrong. Some are concerned about privacy issues, while others are not," said Brad Reyns, Associate Professor at Weber State University, who worked on the University of Cincinnati study.

"When you send something to someone you can't take it back," said UC student Tyler Kirbabas. "Eventually it ends up on the Internet and it's awful really."

More than two dozen alleged revenge porn victims now have filed a lawsuit against one site for invasion of privacy.

But for hundreds of victims of revenge porn, the emotional damage is already done.

Photos they sent to someone they once trusted are now the ultimate betrayal.

"What's happening is not right. This is a form of domestic violence. It needs to be stopped, it's not okay," said Jacobs.

Copyright 2013 WXIX. All rights reserved.

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