Sexting is the exchange of sexually explicit or suggestive images through social media. It can be consensual but is also commonly forced from a victim through threats or intimidation. A sexting image can be downloaded or forwarded with a few taps of a finger and remain on the Internet forever. The intentional spread of sexting images to embarrass or harass the person in the image is called "revenge porn." There are entire websites devoted to the posting of "revenge porn."

The ability to stop the spread of sexting and hold the party spreading it accountable, depends greatly on the circumstances of the sexting. The voluntary sharing of sexually explicit images between consenting adults, of images of consenting adults, that were voluntarily created by consenting adults is generally not a violation of law. Also, websites hosting the sexting images are generally not responsible for the content they post. Many revenge porn websites are outright contemptuous of demands to remove content.

sexting & revenge porn

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​However, in certain circumstances, it is possible to apply legal pressure to force parties spreading and hosting sexting images to remove them. For example, if the sexting images were involuntary or the person in the images was under the age of 18 when they were taken. It is also possible to claim ownership rights to the sexting images. This could make the websites hosting the images liable for intellectual property infringement if they continue to display them. ​

​About half the states also have statutes outlawing revenge porn under certain circumstances. For example, Texas Penal Code 21.16 makes it a Class A misdemeanor to intentionally disclose sexually explicit materials without the consent of the depicted person, when the depicted person is identifiable, there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, and it causes harm to the depicted person. Many of these statues also provide for penalties for owners of websites posting revenge porn. 

Despite the existence of legal remedies in some sexting situations, it is often difficult to determine whether they apply to particular situations. For example, George Zimmerman the Florida man made famous for beating a murder charge after killing a teenager, made news again when he posted topless photos on Twitter of a woman he said was his ex-girlfriend along with her phone number and email address. Twitter suspended his account for violating its abusive behavior policy but it is unclear what legal ramifications Zimmerman could face. Florida has a revenge porn statute but it is not clear if topless photos qualify as "sexually explicit." It is also unclear whether Zimmerman's multiple posts of these pictures and the woman's personal information violated stalking statutes or expose him to civil liability for defamation or violating her privacy.​

​The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children offers 5 tips to preventing sexting:

  1. Think about the consequences. A sexting image could get you kicked off a team or out of an organization, cost you an employment or educational opportunity, and humiliate you.
  2. ​Never take images of yourself that you wouldn't want EVERYONE to see. This includes family, teachers, classmates, employers, and clergy.
  3. ​Remember that you can't unsend an image. Once you hit send you have no control over where it goes or who sees it.
  4. You can be guilty just by forwarding a sexting image. It doesn't matter that you did not take it or profit from it.
  5. ​Talk to a trusted authority if anyone pressures you into sexting. Pressured sexting is disturbingly common with both adults and children. Seeking trusted advice can prevent you from making a costly and permanent mistake.


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All information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Ninomiya Law, PLLC and Kent Ninomiya only provide legal advice to clients when there is a valid engagement agreement signed by both attorney and clients. The principal office of Ninomiya Law, PLLC is located in Round Rock, Texas. Ninomiya Law, PLLC is responsible for the content of this website.