Local advocacy group heading to California to spread anti-revenge porn message

Local News

An online advocacy group that started in Youngstown about a year ago is now taking its message across the world.

What started as an effort to get stolen personal images off the internet has grabbed the attention of some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley.

Katelyn Bowden never realized just how widespread revenge porn was until she became a target.

“Nobody is immune to this. It happens to everybody of all genders, all races, all nationalities. It doesn’t matter,” she said.

Bowden started Battling Against Demeaning and Abusive Selfie Sharing to get the images taken down.

The women in the group have discovered many ways people steal private images of women.

“Your iCloud gets hacked, your Gmail gets hacked and people get the images there — phones being stolen, exes sharing it,” said attorney Kate Venable.

The group targeted one website in particular, Anon-IB, until it was shut down. There, users could target women by city and even school.

“People would sit there and say, ‘Hey, do you have anyone from graduating class of ’06? I’ll trade you Amanda for Ashley.’ It’s like we weren’t even people,” Bowden said.

This week, members of the group will meet in California with leaders of every social media app and developer to try and get a handle on the problem.

Facebook has already been working with the group for over a year.

“I want to talk to them from a victim’s perspective, the ways they can make their platforms a little easier for people going through this,” Bowden said.

She has suffered some backlash though. People blame her and the women for the images that were stolen and posted without permission.

“The worst things they can do is call me a few names, call me a “b-word” or a slut. But frankly, I’d rather be a slut than a dude on the internet trolling anonymously,” Bowden said.

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