Microsoft follows Google to crack down on revenge porn

A special Web form will allow revenge porn victims to report content they want removed from Bing, OneDrive or Xbox Live

Victim of identity theft

Victim of identity theft

Microsoft will make it easier for people to request the removal of links to intimate images or videos from the company's Bing search engine if such content was posted online without their consent.

This move comes in response to an increasingly prevalent phenomenon dubbed "revenge porn," where jilted former partners or extortionists upload sexually explicit content depicting the victims in an embarrassing light.

"Unfortunately, revenge porn is on the rise across the globe," said Jacqueline Beauchere, Microsoft's chief online safety officer, in a blog post. "It can damage nearly every aspect of a victim's life: relationships, career, social activities. In the most severe and tragic cases, it has even led to suicide."

The company has created a new special Web page for reporting such privacy violations and will also remove the content if its hosted on its OneDrive or Xbox Live services.

It's worth remembering that removing links to images or videos from search results does not actually remove the content itself from the Internet. It just makes it harder to find.

In June, Google launched a similar effort and also created a special Web form that allows revenge porn victims to report links to sexually explicit images posted online without their consent.

The revenge porn phenomenon has grown considerably in recent years, even leading to the creation of dedicated websites whose owners have tried to profit from it.

In June, Casey Meyering was sentenced to three years in prison in California for operating what the authorities called a "cyber exploitation website" through which he encouraged people to post revenge porn images and then charged victims to remove them. In April, Kevin Bollaert received an 18-year prison sentence for multiple counts of extortion and identity theft in connection with the operation of a similar website.

Another related phenomenon that the FBI is worried about is known as sextortion. It involves hackers stealing sexually explicit images or videos from computers or mobile phones and then trying to blackmail victims for similar content, money or even sexual favors under the threat of posting what they have online.

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