Justice for Revenge Porn Victims: Legal Theories to Overcome Claims of Civil Immunity by Operators of Revenge Porn Websites
Revenge porn is a term for the posting of nude images of an unconsenting individual online, frequently by an ex-boyfriend. These photos are often linked to social media profiles, the victim’s home address, and employer. Revenge porn victims have “lost jobs, been forced to change schools, change their names, and have been subjected to real-life stalking and harassment.”1 Legal commentary seems to almost unanimously conclude that the operators of revenge porn websites are immune to most civil liability arising from the humiliating content these website operators post on their websites. This conclusion derives from the perceived applicability of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which often provides immunity to website operators for the content they host. However, no court has yet ruled on the Section 230 immunity of revenge porn website operators. This Comment proposes and evaluates two possible arguments that revenge porn victim-plaintiffs might mount to avoid having their claim barred by Section 230. Both arguments involve convincing courts that revenge porn websites are information content providers under Section 230 even though the humiliating images were submitted by third parties.