On April 25, 2015, her nightmare began Tiziana Cantone. He became a victim revenge porn, and was left without support from institutions and justice. Her case, not isolated but hotly debated, sparked a public debate.

Four years later, Italy passed a law against revenge porn) in article 612 of the Criminal Code. This law punishes those who send sexual videos or photos that were intended to remain private, without the consent of the depicted person, as well as those who receive or allow the dissemination of such content. This is not enough.

Similar cases have appeared in Greece from time to time, as a result of which a law was enacted in 2022, according to which revenge pornography is coded from a misdemeanor to a felony in article 346 of the Criminal Code, with a special provision for minors and trafficking in large numbers persons, especially when it comes to video material between partners or spouses. This act becomes a felony (imprisonment of 5-10 years and a fine) if the perpetrator had the intention of providing himself or another with illegal property benefit or harming a third party. If it is done negligently, a prison sentence of up to 3 months and a fine is imposed. Of course, there is always the drastic treatment of the situation through the civil courts (with injunctions and lawsuits).

Online abuse and the issue of consent

However, the law alone has not stopped some people from creating groups on platforms such as Telegram, sharing (without the knowledge of those involved) photos taken from social media or taken privately by friends, family or acquaintances, including minors. This includes vivid descriptions of what they would do to them: the more violent, the better. Moreover, it doesn’t stop the daily occurrences of girls filming and posting on social media for various purposes.

Recent examples include a video taken in Manchester of a group of girls in evening wear, which has gone viral and is being used as an example of the alleged lax morals of modern women by the far right and putting the girl pictured at risk of doxxing.

The rise of artificial intelligence-generated material

In this already disturbing trend, some are now using AI against women to make the process even easier (and uncontrollable). There are dozens of such tools, both free and paid. They can create pornographic or nude videos or images from real photos, modifying them using elements and even using deepfake technology.

This is a serious violation of consent and online abuse. Such content, if created with high-quality tools, becomes virtually indistinguishable from real videos, putting victims in trouble, making them feel violated, losing their jobs or damaging their reputations. This is because traditional porn is no longer enough(!). Now, men want to see their colleagues, girlfriends and neighbors naked and engage in “activities”, a personalized viewing experience.

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The cases are increasing

According to Time, these tools have never been more popular and the first testimonies are emerging. Victims such as Francesca Mani, Cecilia Luque, Helen Mort and 11 minor victims in Almendralejo, Spain have experienced deepfake incidents. The cases are increasing, the laws are not catching up fast enough and are not including all the artificially constructed images, causing a legal vacuum in which these men move.

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What you can do – Associations and links

To address this issue, websites and resource collections are being created to help victims in the US and Italy. Governments, social platforms and search engines are called upon to help eliminate links and advertisements associated with these harmful tools and limit the circulation of non-consensual pornography.

In Italy, the “Permesso Negato” association helps victims in the process of reporting and recovering from abuse. However, this is a cultural problem that needs to be addressed at a deeper level of social and emotional education and not just to limit the public use of AI. We need to understand the limits and power imbalances in order to educate men.