Behind the Screen: How Platform-Specific Policy Affects Consumer Behaviour of Non-Consensual Pornography

2017-10-12T20:23:42Z (GMT) by Lillian Rigling Amelia Clarkson
Since 2010, the web has seen a proliferation of sites and forums dedicated to non-consensual pornography - sexually explicit photos posted on the web without the subject’s consent. This subject makes headlines in the news and in the legal community, but is largely ignored in scholarship. This paper explores the user community that consumes and comments on non-consensual pornography in two different venues, one with curated submissions and the other with an open posting system, here represented by and Reddit. It undertakes a literature review of academic, legal, and popular literature related to the subject, however as little has been written on the consumers of this content the subsequent study seeks to fill this gap. Examining a sample of 20 posts from each platform, this study aims to discover how consumer behaviour is affected by both site-wide policy and site design. A content analysis of the sample was conducted, as well as a close reading of each platform’s policy documents. The study revealed significant differences in user behaviour on each platform. Users of were more likely to provide identifying or personal information on photo-subjects, and used more violent language than Reddit users. Reddit users engaged in self-policing, leading to no instances of subject identification. This study concludes that site policy which is actively enforced, and site design which encourages inter-user communication can dramatically alter the way users engage with non-consensual pornographic content on the web.