Criminalizing Revenge Porn: Frequently Asked Questions

5 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2013 Last revised: 17 Mar 2016

See all articles by Mary Anne Franks

Mary Anne Franks

University of Miami School of Law

Date Written: October 9, 2013


The term “revenge porn,” though frequently used, is somewhat misleading. Many perpetrators are not motivated by revenge or by any personal feelings toward the victim. A more accurate term is nonconsensual pornography, defined as the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent. This includes both images originally obtained without consent (e.g. by using hidden cameras, hacking phones, or recording sexual assaults) as well as images consensually obtained within the context of an intimate relationship.

Nonconsensual pornography transforms unwilling individuals into sexual entertainment for strangers. A vengeful ex-partner or opportunistic hacker can upload an explicit image of a victim to a website where thousands of people can view it and hundreds of other websites can share it. In a matter of days, that image can dominate the first several pages of “hits” on the victim’s name in a search engine, as well as being emailed or otherwise exhibited to the victim’s family, employers, co-workers, and peers.

This short document provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about criminalizing revenge porn and other forms of nonconsensual pornography.

Keywords: revenge porn, First Amendment, cyber harassment, non-consensual pornography, free speech, nonconsensual pornography

Suggested Citation

Franks, Mary Anne, Criminalizing Revenge Porn: Frequently Asked Questions (October 9, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Mary Anne Franks (Contact Author)

University of Miami School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 248087
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States


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