Revenge Porn and Freedom of Speech

In recent years, the distribution of intimate photos or videos without consent has become an epidemic in the United States. This phenomenon is often referred to as Revenge Porn. The harm suffered by the victims affects all aspects of their lives. Nervousness, hysteria, depression, and anorexia are known to be common symptoms among victims of revenge porn. Some victims have tried and even succeeded in ending their lives.
By 2021, almost all US states had criminalized revenge porn, defining it primarily as an infringement of privacy, as obscenity or as harassment. In addition US courts have recently considered the constitutionality of criminalizing revenge porn in view of the potential conflict with freedom of speech mainly based on the aforementioned categorizations. Contrary to the courts’ decisions, I will argue that revenge porn is a sex offense and this reconceptualization has implications with regard to freedom of speech, that of both the disseminator and the potential audience.