Image by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA/Getty Images
Staff Writer: Shailyn Bacchiocchi
Twitter blew up last Thursday night when explicit videos and photos of the University of Wisconsin’s women’s volleyball team started circulating. The University of Wisconsin subsequently released a statement that the UW-Police Department is investigating “multiple crimes” per the leaking of the private videos and photos.
“The unauthorized sharing is a significant and wrongful invasion of the student-athletes’ privacy,” the statement reads, “including potential violations of the university policies and criminal statues,”
Twitter was quick to make light of the situation, sharing memes and comments that were geared toward bringing humor to the scenario. The situation became so big that the team’s Twitter account turned off comments for their posts.
This is not the first time the leaking of intimate photos has been at the forefront of news in the sports world.
Back in August, several British women athletes’ pictures were leaked on social media days after the England Lionesses’ historic Euro Cup victory over Germany.
In Wisconsin, the act of distributing nude images or videos without the person’s consent is criminalized, per the law enacted in April 2014.
Though it may be treated as a criminal offense in Wisconsin, there are four states who have not made any laws specific to revenge porn. In Wyoming, Mississippi, South Carolina, and our very own Massachusetts, there are no laws protecting victims of revenge porn.
Whether or not Twitter finds humor in the situation, the implications of revenge porn are extremely damaging. Victims of revenge porn are likely to commit suicide and suffer significant emotional distress.
Specifically, women, are more likely to be victims of revenge pornography. According to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, 90% of victims of revenge porn are women.
Social media has only made the circulation of revenge porn more frequent.
In 2019, a study showed the number of victims of revenge porn had jumped 400% since 2016. Social media, as seen in this case, makes it easier for people to share and spread images while making light of a situation that has serious implications.
Though the images and videos of the volleyball team are slowly being removed, there are still hundreds of tweets including them, and the leaks have already started moving onto other platforms.
The leak of the volleyball team’s private photos and videos can serve to start conversations about how to better protect the victims of these attacks, not conversations about the sexual nature of the leaks.
Resources/Information on Revenge Porn
Cyber Civil Rights Initiative Helpline
Laws and Legislation Against Revenge Porn
On-Campus Resources for Sexual Violence