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Microsoft Plays Knight In Shining Armor As In Battle Against Revenge Porn

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Microsoft has rolled out a new tool that allows victims of revenge porn to more easily and quickly request the removal of links to offensive content.

The move is part of the software company's strides to curb revenge porn, a relatively new phenomenon that involves posting sexually explicit content without consent of the featured individual. Most commonly, it is distributed by an ex-partner with the intention of humiliating the individual.

"When someone shares intimate images of another person online without that person's consent, the effects can be truly devastating," said Jacqueline Beauchere, chief online safety officer for Microsoft. "Unfortunately, revenge porn is on the rise across the globe. 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."

Anyone who wishes to have Microsoft remove access to offensive content on the company's services can use the new tool to do so. Beauchere said Microsoft has removed links to revenge porn on Bing in the past, and the new tool should make it easier for victims of revenge porn to alert Microsoft of each case. The tool will also allow users to request Microsoft to remove access to revenge porn on Microsoft's OneDrive and Xbox Live services.

If victims have any documentation, such as a police report, restraining order or a court order, to prove that they are indeed the person featured in the content, they can also upload the files so Microsoft can verify them. However, all requests, even those that are not accompanied by documentation, will be reviewed and honored by Microsoft.

Microsoft is not the first tech company to take a stance against revenge porn. Earlier this year, Google announced a similar initiative that lets users request the removal of links to revenge porn in the search engine. The combined efforts of Google and Microsoft mean that a strong majority of all web searches would cut access to revenge porn links, provided the victims request their removal.

Beauchere acknowledged that there is still a lot to be done to curb revenge porn, especially as Google and Bing can only remove access to the content, rather than removing the content itself from the Internet. Actually taking content down depends upon the website hosting the material. But as Google and Bing are the biggest players in the search industry, it's safe to say that they will largely help prevent the perpetuation of revenge porn and return some agency to its victims. 

Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns | Flickr

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