If you ever come across a situation when you see leaked nude photos being shared on the internet without your consent, a state of panic may ensue. First things first, try to calm yourself. It isn’t the end of the world, there are things you can do to rectify it, and that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about today.
If you’re currently experiencing something of the kind, you’re probably in the mood to skim through this blog to try and figure out what you need to do ASAP.
Without further ado, let’s get right to it. In this article, online safety expert Amitabh Kumar, founder of Social Media Matters and former trust and safety expert for Google, Facebook, and Amazon to name a few, writes about what you need to do when you find your nudes online.
What Should You Do If You Find Your Nudes Online?
Often overlooked, the very first thing you need to do is make sure you don’t blame yourself. If you let panic and regret dictate your actions, it’ll become a lot harder to find help and rectify the situation.
Where the actual hurt and pain lies is within the victim spiral. Questions like “Why did I do this?” “Why did I trust this person?” are far more painful than anything else that may happen. The agony that comes with somebody misusing your trust isn’t one that’s easily shaken off, but sharing it with someone you trust will help.
Share your feelings with family, a friend, a counselor, or a professional who can help you throughout the process. Once you accept the fact that this in no way was your fault and you shouldn’t be hard on yourself, the rest of the journey becomes easier.
The most common causes of leaked nude pictures that I see are when someone who you know puts your pictures out there, or when a phone repair person steals the images from your phone and uploads them somewhere. Now that we’ve talked about the mindset you should have, let’s talk about what to do if your nudes are leaked.
If you find intimate images of yourself on a pornographic website
If you’ve had your nudes leaked on international pornographic websites, the first thing you need to understand is that there are laws to protect you specifically in these situations. By pushing section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, you can pressure the intermediary or wherever the images are available to take them down.
You can also go with the Millennium Copyright Act, which basically says that any photo of yours is your copyright. If somebody has it on a website without your consent and without paying you for it, they cannot host it legally.
For international pornographic websites, these acts tend to work well and the way to pressure the platform with these acts is by immediately sending an email across. If your email mentions the right acts and sounds legal enough, the webmaster will usually pull it down.
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How to contact the websites
In the case of leaked nude pics, the best way to frame your email with the right acts and make it sound like you know what you’re doing is by consulting a lawyer. Any legit business in Europe or the US is bound to reply to a lawyer.
Let’s say the website is registered in Berlin. In your email, you can mention things like how you’ll reach out to the Berlin court if things do not get acted upon. Thankfully, unlike India, the legal systems actively respond to emails in Europe and the U.S.
If you’re wondering about where to send these emails, the biggest websites like PornHub usually follow the same methodology as every website. At the bottom of the page, there will be a “contact us” hidden away. You can also use this Pornhub content removal form to get started.
When you see your nudes exposed on websites as large as Pornhub and others, getting content removed usually doesn’t take too long.
But what if the website isn’t legit?
What if the website that’s hosting your leaked nude photos isn’t well established, doesn’t have contactable email addresses and is extremely shady? Don’t worry, there’s still a lot you can do. For starters, you can head over to cybercrime.gov.in and file a complaint.
If the website that’s hosting your pictures is flimsy and suspicious, they probably don’t have any sort of quality control, which more often than not means there could also be explicit images of minors on the website.
Thus, you can then include an allegation of minor content in your complaint. Once you do that, the whole nature of the complaint changes. In traditional complaints, there can be instances of victim-blaming and ridiculing the survivors. Once there’s a question of underage illicit material being handled, the POSCO act and CBI come into play.
Especially if the survivor, in this case, is around the ages of 16 or 15, the legal mechanism will work much more rapidly and swiftly. To lodge a complaint on cybercrime.gov.in, you can head over to the complaints portal and put in your details. Their Twitter handle is quite proactive as well.
If You Find Your Images On A Social Media Website
The laws regarding the protection of intimate pictures are getting stronger by the hour. The setting up of grievance officers in India for major social media platforms has very recently been established, and it makes this whole process a lot easier.
Grievance officers are now required to be hired by Facebook and Twitter and are specifically tasked with handling cases of misuse of digital content. By sending an email to the grievance officers of these websites, your query will be responded to within 48 and 72 hours.
You can also report the content, which you can do directly on the post. Save the link to the post as well. For Facebook, you can find the contact information in the Facebook safety center. A quick Google search reveals their email addresses too, like Instagram and Twitter.
If you’re looking to get things removed from popping up on a Google search, this complaint form is a good place to get started.
What happens after you send an email?
The only thing an email to the grievance officer is going to do is take down the content you’re reporting. If you want to take action against the perpetrator, filing an FIR is the only way you can. Cybercrime cells work closely with social media platforms.
When pursuing action against the perpetrators, the FIR needs to go under the correct acts. By mentioning the acts and providing as much information as possible, you’ll be increasing your chances of getting justice.
Thus, while writing an FIR, it is always recommended to have a lawyer friend with you. Another important thing to keep in mind is to write down all the information you can before you go to the police station. A lot of details may slip your mind when you’re there at that moment.
In the panic you may be facing while thinking “My nudes were leaked, my life is over,” you need to tell yourself that there are systems that have been set up to help you. You’re not to blame here, and you did nothing wrong. The sooner you go to the authorities with proper representation, the better.
If you’re worried about the images being uploaded again immediately, the only way to go about it is through the police. If you know the perpetrator, don’t be in contact with them or be nice to them, let the law handle the way they approach the situation. You should, however, continue to pressure the police and the people involved to work more efficiently.
Related Reading: Sexual abuse has left me depressed and I feel like it was my fault
If you are getting blackmailed
During the pandemic, the Social Media Matters team saw a huge surge in cases of blackmailing. The regular modus operandi of the perpetrators has become to engage survivors in explicit video calls, record it and proceed to threaten them with it.
Figuring out what to do if someone has your nudes when you’re getting blackmailed is usually a lot scarier if you’re doing it alone. Try to contact a friend or a lawyer immediately.
If you are currently being blackmailed with exposed nudes, the most important thing to remember is to NEVER pay your blackmailer. If there is one thing you take away from this article, it should be to never pay someone who’s blackmailing you with your nudes. They will not go away.
If you pay them once, they will harass you again. The blackmailing doesn’t stop. I’ve seen multiple cases where people have paid upwards of 25-30 lakhs over a period of time, and the blackmailing never stopped.
The minute you are faced with a blackmailing threat with your leaked nude pics, your very first step should be to go to the police. If you want, you can tell the person who’s blackmailing you that you’re informing the authorities. Share the screenshots of the messages, the number, the Paytm number.
The legal route
The first thing you should do when you decide to take the legal route is to contact a lawyer before you even file the FIR. Note down all the information you can when you first discover your photos online, contact a lawyer and file an FIR with the help of the lawyer.
In the FIR, you need to mention the acts that will help you go to court and get justice. To make your FIR as strong as possible, make sure you add the relevant acts that apply to your situation. Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with the circulation of obscene material, can be mentioned. Section 354 of the IPC, which is outraging the modesty, that comes into play when the survivor is female. There is also section 406 (IPC), which is specific to trust. Section 499 (IPC) can also be mentioned, on the grounds of hurting somebody.
The legal route may be filled with insensitivity and victim-blaming but you’ve got to keep your head up high and keep a steel-headed approach throughout it all. Know that the system is ultimately set up to help you, though it might take some perseverance.
Recently, a 23-year-old man was sentenced to 5 years in prison for sharing leaked nude photos of his ex-girlfriend. If you’re feeling hopeless, know that justice isn’t as distant a dream as you thought. If you’re looking for help to get started with your initial FIR, here’s an example of a draft complaint about cybercrime.
What happens after the FIR?
At the end of the day, a crime has been committed. You’re being blackmailed or you’ve discovered pictures of you uploaded without your consent. Just like any other crime, the state will be taking action against the criminal.
The only thing you need to make sure of is that cybercrime pursues it as well. Follow up with your lawyer, the cybercrime division and the local police and let them know it isn’t a one-time thing.
Throughout it all, it’s best to keep a practical point of view. In some cases, it’s possible you know who the offender is. Do not let your resolute state of mind waver because you were once intimate with them.
In my years of dealing with such cases, I’ve come across way too many where the survivors have told me to “make him stop, but don’t hurt him”. Once you opt to take the legal route and get justice, do so with all seriousness.
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When all is said and done, know that life goes on
It’s easy to talk about the legalities and the acts as though they’re merely technical terms and should be treated as such. The reality, however, might seem like the survivor trembling before every step they must take in their journey to overcome this situation that has arisen.
Nobody ever wishes to say/think something like “My nudes were leaked,” but even if you do, you mustn’t question why it happened to you, instead, tackle what you need to do next.
The state of mind you’re in currently may not be the best. You may be having intrusive and depressive thoughts, but it’s important to understand that this incident, in the grand scheme of things, will not matter soon.
In our fast-paced society, there’s an unimaginable amount of data being uploaded on the internet every passing second. People, with their short-term memory, forget and move on almost instantly. When it comes down to it, the things that are on the internet and the things we do on the internet are insignificant. What matters most is how you look after yourself, your real-life engagements, friendships, hobbies, and your career.
Everything that may currently be happening is not your fault, and there’s no use crying over spilled milk. The need of the hour is to figure out what’s next, and not to let it get to you. A few months down the line, you’ll realize this doesn’t affect the story of your life in the slightest.
If you’re struggling to cope with the frame of mind you’re in, Bonobology has a multitude of experienced counseling psychologists who are willing to help you through this time in your life.
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