On “Sex Tape” and revenge porn

Schadenfreude. A German word for taking pleasure in the pain of others (a rough, literal English translation is “harm-joy”) it’s a concept at the crux of many a wacky romp, including, perhaps, the upcoming flick “Sex Tape.”

Starring Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz as a couple who seeks to put a little spice in their relationship by filming a sex tape that accidentally gets uploaded to the cloud, it’s one of the first movies that really focuses entirely on the dangers of the Internet’s “no tackbacksies” policy. Outside of how to avoid trolls and Youtube comments, talks about Internet etiquette seems to be so 20 years ago for media we consume.

Yet here we are, with two Hollywood A-listers attempting to do the impossible: erase a video from the Internet.

But is this scenario really the best representation of the dangers of homemade-risque material breaching the perimeter of web permanence? For years stories have permeated the Web news cycle, about women and men whose emails were hacked, nude pictures stolen, and lives were ruined.

Often people have sites like Is Anyone Up?, a site run by Hunter Moore, (self-proclaimed “ruiner of lives”) that puts up stolen pictures from people across the globe next to personal information about the subject. A chunk of them come from angry exes or screengrabs from social media sites. Some changed their names and switched jobs to avoid the embarrassment, some have taken a more permanent route. 

It’s common advice for young people these days, right up with advice on what to wear when you walk home late at night: don’t post things to the Internet you might regret. Be careful who you share yourself with. Be careful who you trust.

So is a (what appears to be) well-off middle aged couple who accidentally posted a sex tape to the vast porn pools of the Internet really the best representation of the dangers of the Internet? Or is it just another way of taking real pain of others and profiting from it?

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