Media Release: Women’s Aid welcomes move by Facebook to tackle the sharing of intimate images without consent (‘Revenge Porn’).

5 Apr 2017

Women’s Aid today welcomed the new initiative by Facebook to tackle the sharing of intimate images without consent. The measures, outlined in a blog post by Antigone Davis, Head of Global Safety at Facebook, allows users to report intimate images which they believe have been shared without consent. These images will then be examined by its Community Operations team. Any offending image will be blocked across Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Instagram. The account which shared the image may also be disabled. Women's Aid, which supports women affected by domestic and dating abuse in Ireland, has been raising the issue of digital abuse of women for many years, including the phenomenon commonly referred to as ‘revenge porn’.

Welcoming the development, Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid said:

“We are really pleased to see this initiative by Facebook to prevent the sharing of intimate images without consent. We have been working with the social network for a number of years to address the abuse of women by intimate partners online. Most recently we partnered with Facebook to launch a guide to staying safe on Facebook for women. The new tools announced today are a welcome additional step in increasing safety and protection for women online. There are now clear steps women, who have been victims of this form of digital abuse, to report these images and be supported to have images removed.”

Ms Martin explained:

“Digital abuse in intimate relationships is real, it is harmful and it is more and more being treated as a serious issue. The most common form of digital abuse we hear about are damaging rumours being spread about women both personally and professionally and having sexually explicit images and posted online without their consent. It’s not revenge, it’s not porn. It is abuse and this type of abuse is one of the deepest betrayals of trust by a boyfriend or ex.

Ms Martin added:

“The impact of this type of insidious abuse on women’s lives cannot be underestimated. Women feel that their privacy has been invaded and that they have no control over their lives. Women experience anxiety and feel vulnerable and fearful. They also have difficulty in concentrating and sleeping. Women have to change their contact numbers and email addresses, close down social media accounts and in some cases, move out of their homes. Women have to try to repair damage done to their reputation with their family, friends, at work and with their online communities.”

Anyone who is affected by this issue can call the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900, 7 days a week or visit the Digital Safety section of the website.

Ends.

Notes to editors/Producers:

  • Blog post by Antigone Davis, Facebook, available here: https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/04/using-technology-to-protect-intimate-images-and-help-build-a-safe-community/
  • Written case study Niamh available here. (www.womensaid.ie/about/newsevents/casestudies)
  • Digital abuse of women includes online and technology abuse, online shaming and stalking and the non-consensual sharing of explicit images (‘revenge porn’).
  • Women's Aid is the national organisation providing support and information to women experiencing domestic violence through its Direct Services. It runs the only free, national, domestic violence helpline (1800 341 900, 24 hours, 7 days) with specialised trained staff & volunteers, accredited by the Helplines Partnership and with a Telephone Interpretation Service covering 170 languages for callers needing interpreting services as well as a Text Service for Deaf and Hard of Hearing women.
  • Women's Aid also offers a Dublin-based One to One Support Service and Court Accompaniment Service and runs the Dolphin House Support and Referral Service in the Dublin District Family Law Court (in partnership with Dublin 12 Domestic Violence Service and Inchicore Outreach Centre.)
  • There were 293 disclosures to Women’s Aid of digital abuse including stalking and the sharing of intimate images in 2015.
  • Women’s Aid 24hr Helpline has answered 41 calls a day so far in 2016.
  • The Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline answered 9,308 calls in 2015 (10am to 10pm service). There were 870 one to one support visits and 239 court accompaniments carried out by its One to One Support Services. An additional 308 drop-in sessions took place at the Dolphin House Support and Referral Service. There were also 1,316 additional support calls by our One to One Services, including at Dolphin House.
  • There were 16,375 disclosures of domestic abuse to Women’s Aid Direct Services in 2015 including 10,876 disclosures of emotional abuse, 3,281 disclosures of physical abuse, 616 disclosures of sexual abuse (Including 212 disclosures of rape) and 1,602 disclosures of financial abuse.
  • The Women’s Aid website was visited 167,229 times in 2015.