According to research by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI), 1 in 20 social media users have shared nonconsensual pornography. 1 in 8 social media users say they have been the victim of this kind of media dissemination.
“This study shows the horror that we’ve suspected all along—that [nonconsensual porn] is more prevalent than we thought,” said Holly Jacobs, founder of CCRI, a nonprofit advocating against online abuse.
Although intended to study the phenomenon of "revenge porn," Jacobs now reccomends a change in the categorization and advocates the use of the more general term — nonconsenual pornography — which does not take the intention of those sharing the image into account. “We’ve been seeing this first-hand in our victim support and advocacy work and now we have proof: a significant amount of nonconsensual porn is not perpetrated with the intent to harm,” she said.
“Once you expand the definition to include [nonconsensual porn] perpetrated for any reason by any person, using any method, that number increases," added Asia Eaton, the study’s director and a professor at Florida International University.
The study took a survey of 3,000 Facebook users from around the United States and explored various types of illicit media dispersal as an investigation of the "revenge porn" phenomenon. 5.2 percent of those polled admitted to having ever shared “a sexually-explicit image of someone without their consent" — 79 percent of those people said they just wanted to share the image with friends and had no aim of hurting the person in question. 12 percent of people who shared images nonconsensually said they intended to hurt the person in them.
The study also revealed that most of the perpetrators behind nonconsenual pornography are men and most of the victims are women. Men were twice as likely to have shared this kind of media. 15.8 percent of women reported having been a victim of, or threatened with, nonconsensual pornography. Only 7.9 percent of the men surveyed reported being victimized.
The study hopes to aid legislation and policies to combat revenge porn and nonconsensual pornography in the future. “Laws that only apply to perpetrators who intend to harm their victims will be useless for the majority of cases," said Mary Anne Franks, the legislative and tech policy director at CCRI.