Sharing intimate images is common among adults for both recreational and commercial reasons. While sharing intimate images has many benefits, it can put people at risk of a form of technology-facilitated violence referred to as image-based sexual abuse (IBSA): the non-consensual distribution or threat of distribution of intimate images.
Intimate image-based sexual abuse is a growing problem, and we have recently witnessed several attempts at national and EU levels by policymakers to tackle this issue. However, such attempts often lack a nuanced understanding of the reasons behind sharing such content and individuals' diverse needs regarding protection from abuse, which can only be uncovered by meaningful consultation with all stakeholders and in-depth analysis of the results. ESWA proposed and initiated this research project with the purpose of tackling these issues and hopefully opening up more space for further conversation between platforms, policymakers and impacted groups.
This report is a product of interviews with 52 European adults (from which 23 were sex workers) who create and share intimate images for recreational and/or commercial purposes to analyse their motivations for sharing intimate content, the technologies they employ, threats they face, and safety strategies (technological and behavioural) they use to avoid non-consensual distribution of intimate images. The report also provides recommendations for online platforms to implement in order to create safer online environments and help tackle image-based sexual abuse in a rights-affirming manner.
This work was funded in part by the European Sex Workers Rights Alliance via a grant from the European AI & Society Fund, by the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, by the Graduate Research Fellowship through the U.S. National Science Foundation, and by U.S. National Science Foundation Award #2206950.
Click on the image below to download the report.