spreading celebrity nudes isn’t fun

TODAY -- Pictured: Jesse Williams on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Jesse Williams has fallen victim to the non-consensual distribution of photos of him completely naked. (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

For just over 24 hours, Jesse Williams has been the center of attention on social networks. Nude photos of the former ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star were shared without her permission, and many internet users seem to find it hilarious. Yet it is an illegal practice, and laughing at it only downplays a problem that hurts thousands of people every year.

“Have you seen the pictures of Jesse Williams naked on the internet?” “Wow, he looks really good.” “I want to play doctor with Jesse Williams…” Since May 10, 2022, these phrases have been circulating on social networks, from TikTok to Twitter via Instagram. Their origin? A photo of actor Jesse Williams, best known for playing Jackson Avery in ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ naked on stage in his new Broadway play, Take Me Out.

Yes, Jesse Williams is a victim

Let’s talk about context first. In the play in question, the actor plays a once-beloved baseball player, who became the target of discrimination after coming out. The play, which was a huge success, earned Jesse Williams a nomination for the Tony Awards as best actor. But above all: any recording of the play by viewers, on video or on photo, is absolutely prohibited. So the photos were taken illegally before they were shared, also illegally. The fact that he was on stage at the time of the events and voluntarily undressing as part of the play changes nothing: Jesse Williams was the victim of the unauthorized distribution of intimate images. Images that will live on the web forever, without his approval or control, and have been shared thousands of times at the time of writing.

Video. Rachel-Flore Pardo: “The author of an unauthorized distribution of sexual content risks up to 5 years in prison and a fine of 60,000 euros”

In all respects, remember that this is a practice punishable by law in the vast majority of countries in the world. In France, Article 226-2-1 of the Criminal Code is formal on this subject: the “transfer of an image of a person who is in a private space, without the consent of the data subject”, especially when it comes to “words or images of a sexual nature” are punishable by five years in prison and a fine of €60,000. In the United States, laws in this area vary from state to state. But with regard to New York, where Jesse Williams’ play is currently being performed, the local jurisdiction says: “In New York State, making public the intimate image of another person with the intent to cause harm is a criminal and civil This act is punishable by one year in prison or three years’ probation and a fine of up to $1,000 in the criminal court,” according to the NowNYC website.

So, not only can the person who captured and distributed the images in question be punished, but anyone who subsequently shared them could be considered an accomplice. Yes, a simple RT can have serious consequences when it comes to intimate photos.

Sharing stolen photos of stars downplays an illegal and dangerous practice

As a general rule, and even if some people still think that the victims are to blame in the case of non-consensual distribution of intimate photos (when it is not), the victims of this type of practice are widely supported in line . This has not really been the case for Jesse Williams. On the contrary, thousands of people have allowed themselves to comment on its anatomy, have asked how to consult the images in question, have joked about it. And the actor isn’t the first to fall victim to this kind of attitude: Chris Evans had to endure the same thing when he accidentally posted a picture of his gender on his Instagram story. Likewise, nude photos of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence obtained by hackers have undergone the same treatment.

This lightheartedness is sickening and leads to a profound dehumanization of celebrities. Just because they are known to millions of people around the world doesn’t mean they don’t feel the same as everyone else when their privacy is violated in this way. Even worse, making fun of these intimate photos that were illegally taken and shared is to downplay a practice that affects thousands of people every year. So, before you share a nude photo of Jesse Williams hoping to click, remember: the actor may not see your teasing or your light-heartedness in light of the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. On the other hand, potential victims in your area will witness it and be hesitant to talk about it for fear that you will have a similar reaction to them. A blow to break their trust.

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