If you think snapping a compromising photo of yourself and sending it to a loved one is harmless fun, you may want to reconsider.
The recent controversy surrounding a US celebrity couple has brought the issue of revenge porn back into the spotlight.
Last Wednesday, Rob Kardashian took to Instagram to post several naked photographs and an intimate video of his girlfriend Angela White, also known as Blac Chyna, with another man, to his 9.2 million followers.
He accused White, the mother of his child, of drug abuse and cheating on him with eight men in less than a month.
Many of the pictures, he added, were sent to him by White days earlier to taunt him.
“I have never been so disrespected in my life. I just bought her US$250,000 (S$344,000) of jewellery yesterday. This woman is so disrespectful… and I don’t care,” he said.
When Instagram took down Kardashian’s profile after receiving complaints, the 30-year-old sock designer then took to Twitter to continue his rant to his almost eight million followers there.
In retaliation, White went on Snapchat and accused Kardashian of physically abusing her.
“Don’t try to act like it never happened,” she said in the now-deleted post.
White also said she had been devastated by the developments. “This was a person I trusted… to send those pictures. I just feel betrayed,” she said later.
The law was on White’s side. Revenge porn, or “non-consensual pornography”, has been illegal in California since 2014.
It is classified as such when the offender intentionally distributes photos or videos meant to be private with the intention to cause “serious emotional distress”.
Some observers have pointed out that White “liked” Kardashian’s incriminating posts about her, so she could not have suffered any emotional distress.
But White’s lawyer Lisa Bloom said: “I don’t think I’ve ever met a victim of revenge porn who was not distressed by what happened.”
White was granted a temporary restraining order against Kardashian, who has also been barred from posting photos of her and her children on social media.
The outlandish series of events playing out in the United States seems far-fetched to many netizens here.
But in April, a 21-year-old man was jailed for four weeks for revenge porn in Singapore after uploading 20 nude photographs of his former girlfriend to content-sharing site Tumblr.
He was angry with her for communicating with another man and promised to “make her suffer”.
The prosecution said the impact on the woman was “severe and irreversible”. The 21-year-old woman said she felt embarrassed, ashamed and guilty about the release of her intimate photos.
Mr Bryan Tan, technology partner at law firm Pinsent Masons MPillay, said that there are several laws that can be used to protect a victim.
And culprits will be liable even if they upload the photos to a server located overseas, as such an act may contravene the law.
He encouraged local social media users to practise strict online discipline.”You think it’s safe sending intimate photos. But they remain on that person’s phone and there’s a chance such photos might be leaked,” he said. “In the first place, refrain from taking such compromising photographs and you’ll be safe.” – Straits Times