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Tough Questions: Revenge pornography

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Yet another reason for parents to talk to their teens about the dangers of sexting, you never know where pictures that you send may end up.

TV5 talked with a Michigan woman, who only wanted to be identified as "Ann". She says she found nude photos of herself on the internet. She immediately thought of her ex-boyfriend and then she thought, how could he do such a thing?

Ann investigated and found something called a revenge porn website. There are a handful of them that feature thousands of women in compromising positions. The websites solicit pictures from ex-boyfriends seeking revenge.

In Ann's case, it also featured a link to her Facebook page, her cell phone number and even included a picture of her son.

"The person that put my information on this site, had put my Facebook, snapshot of my Facebook, which has my son. I have a one year-old son", Ann said.

At first she didn't know what to make of it, but then she wondered why so many strangers were calling her with vulgar things to say.

Revenge porn websites are growing in popularity and they're free. Anyone seeking revenge can easily upload pictures of their ex and expose them to the world. There are lawsuits popping up in several states, but no definitive word on their legality.

Ann says she discovered a website that says they could get the pics removed if she paid 250 dollars. Where did she find the site? The site is posted as a link on the very same site that exposed her pictures.

After TV5 did some digging, we found evidence that these two sites may be owned by the same person. A simple search shows they both have the same registered agent and owner. And that, according to legal experts, may land this particular site in hot water.

Beth Hutchens practices law in Arizona. She's crusading against these revenge porn sites. She says they clearly cross ethical and legal lines.

How do the website administrators justify what they do? They say it's perfectly legal. They claims it's simply free speech.

Hutchens says that couldn't be further from the truth. "I think that demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the first amendment and what it does and does not protect", Hutchens said.

Hutchens says her firm is representing dozens of women whose pictures have been posted to the internet without their permission. And as that legal process unfolds, Ann has a message for anyone thinking about sharing nude photos even with someone you love. "I would say use your better judgment and people have told me that too. I just wouldn't do it."

Ironically, revenge porn site owners say the communications decency act protects them from any legal liability,but that remains to be seen with all the lawsuits underway. As for Ann, she tells TV5 that she would pay the 250 dollars to remove her pics, but she just can't afford right now.

Hundreds of victims of this trend have now created an online petition to try to make revenge porn illegal.

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