Last year, at least five British men committed suicide after they were conned by a large-scale “sextortion” gang. Someone from the group poses online as a member of the opposite sex looking for love. They coerce the naive person into performing sex acts on a camera, only to inform him or her later that he or she must pay a ransom or see the photos and videos released to friends and family.
An Italian man landed in court considering charging him with manslaughter when his girlfriend killed herself after he threatened to share intimate videos and photos with her family. Tovonna Holton, a 15-year-old Florida girl, committed suicide after her classmates saw a leaked Snapchat video of her in the shower. It was rumored her ex-boyfriend had posted the video on Twitter after their breakup, even though he denied it.
Even if blackmail doesn’t cause suicide, it can cause a person severe emotional distress. At least 41 states plus Washington, D.C. now have revenge porn laws making publishing private, semi-naked, or naked photos (like Gawker regularly did) illegal. As Bezos pointed out, the copyright of the photos was never AMI’s to begin with, so it’s illegal on that front as well.