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Revenge porn: A way online platforms are being misused for
School children upload toilet pictures on YouTube. College students have been sharing 'selfie' of intimate relations on Facebook. Couples go for role-play in Google chat, meet up on Google hangout and gets embittered. Men deceive women in bedroom and get obscene updates to social networking sites. Housewives come together with strangers in chat applications and get deceived and later commit suicide.

There is only one victim: woman and there is only one culprit: man. Revenge porn is often detrimental to women. This means gender is the sole subject in acts of vengeance on social websites. Yes, this is spectacular reflection of Internet culture and a direct consequence of our techno-sociality.

A distressing pattern of our techno-sociality has resulted in annoying episodes that made elder generation frown up on the younger generation. Social media is for young generation in ways similar to Television for their parents and radio for the grand parents. However, the way each generation copes up with their favourite technology often allude commonsense.

Among the series of negativity creating news, in particular consequence of social media usage, younger people are more vulnerable to the cobweb of nebulous social websites. How often do we know that social websites have been making, remaking and unmaking our vulnerabilities that we have outside the online world? Among the monstrous inventory of vulnerabilities that social media sites reproduce, 'revenge porn' is the most off-putting anxiety.

Obscene photos, close moments with beloved, bedroom scenes, salacious bathing view, etc., has either photographed or filmed with vicious intention. Such pictures or films then uploaded to streaming video sites or shared on social networking sites. Most obviously, the shares, Likes, comments and replies digital natives registered there on to such spiteful and ferocious contents bark many unwanted consequences.

Young people are both victims and culprits of such revenge porn culture on Internet. Internet has become a protected asylum for acts of reprisal. Indeed, culture of retribution has almost become routine among youth.

Sharing and uploading videos and photos have a fussy nature. Most often, acts of uploading obscene pictures and videos are due to personal conflicts, individual jealousy, professional rivalry, frustration out of letdown in relationships, love failure, etc. Let us call the misuse of recorded footages and traces of past relations on Internet for vengeance as an act of 'revenge porn' culture in Internet.

Women are often victims of such revenge porn culture. The vulnerabilities of gender are high at social websites. In fact, women vulnerabilities of a particular sort have migrated to social websites. College girls cheated and exposed on Facebook. College boys lure innocent girls on social networking sites. Men bargain and blackmail women by threatening Facebook upload of obscene pictures of past relations. Time after time, girls are victimised and fall prey to the fierce and wicked intentions of men on Internet.

In Andhra Pradesh, police have arrested a man for allegedly opening a fake Facebook account of his former woman colleague and publishing obscene pictures in February 2014. Police arrested a college student in Udupi for allegedly posting obscene photos of his ex-girl friend on Facebook in January 2014. A man from Prakasam district in Andhra Pradesh was arrested for creating a fake Facebook account of a girl student and posting her morphed pictures in May 2013. In November 2013, a man has been arrested in Ahmedabad for allegedly vilifying his ex-wife on Internet. In Mumbai, an executive of a foreign bank was arrested for allegedly posting morphed obscene photographs of a female colleague after she refused to marry him on August 2013.

A Class XII girl student in West Delhi attempted suicide in December 2011 after a youth sought to blackmail her with an obscene MMS clip. In Jawaharlal Nehru University MMS case, an obscene clip was circulated in the institution. In Mumbai a man fakes Facebook profile of a girl; posts obscene content on to it after his love proposal was rejected in 2012.

In Pune, Police arrested a Mumbai-based businessperson in connection with an allegation where he sent derogatory and obscene messages on to the Facebook profile of ex-wife as revenge to fallout of their marital discord.

On 18 January 2012, creating a fake profile of a married woman on a social networking site and posting obscene material on to it, a Patiala based tailor landed under the police radar.

A young woman in Kerala committed suicide on 26 January 2014. The reason was that her neighbour allegedly posted obscene posts about her on Facebook. A man was arrested for allegedly taking pictures of women devotees inside the famous Sri Meenakshi temple using his mobile phone on March 2012.

Revenge culture on Internet is often disadvantageous to women. Housewives, college going girls, school children, female colleagues, etc. are usually victimised. May be revenge porn, but youths are vastly vulnerable to technology. If truth be told, gender rooted Online abuse often targets the most visible mark: female body. Consequently, women face scores of abuse dealing with images, including those circulated without permission, photographs morphed, consensual sexual videos, etc.

Definitely, revenge culture is a weird structure of crime developed overtime. Previous generations have seen anonymous and humiliating wall posts, pamphlets, commentaries and leaflets with malicious intention to tarnish character and spoiling public image. However, it has acquired newer form after Internet and vastly reproduced in connective platforms in different ways and consequences. However, we look at this in a typical conventional law and order framework. It is time to rethink on how to deal with revenge culture in Internet.

Revenge culture has been repeatedly occurring, although such events have been avoidable, avertable and if found guilty can be penalized. In most cases, accused people were booked under following IPC Sections 509: word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman, IPC Section 419: punishment for cheating by personation, 469: forgery for purpose of harming reputation, 500: defamation, among others.

Other relevant sections of the IT Act were seemingly used to book culprits. However, no laws specifically mention revenge culture and the broader dimension in which such crimes could have been occurring in a society that seem closed, hierarchical and taboo ridden. Especially, IT Act 2000 is arguably the sole legal measure that addresses such crimes occurring Online.

Yet, the questions raised are how women friendly are laws? If the laws address the peculiar consequences, that women encounter out of revenge porn. Indian penal code, IT Act 2000, etc., has been deployed to deal with acts of revenge porn. Despite the anti-women patriarchal and misogynistic reappearances of Internet, laws are sufficiently anti-women.

Revenge porn certainly is a systemic oppression of women; organised gender based crime against women, and gendered reverberation of patriarchal Internet. Time is ripe enough to come out of the shrinking shell of Internet culture. Laws should have wisdom and hope it has.

About the contributor

Biju P R, teaches Political Science at Government Brennen College, Thalassery, Kerala. Researches on social media and political interfaces in the Indian context. Currently writing two books on the same theme. (Clicking Alone: Mechanics of protest and change in digital India) and (ConnectivePolitics: Reflections on digital public in India).

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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