National

Around 10 percent of Japanese smartphone users OK sharing intimate photos with partners: survey

Staff Report, Kyodo

A survey by a government-backed information technology security agency has found that around 10 percent of those in their 20s who use smartphones or other smart devices did not mind using social media to share intimate photos with their romantic partners.

The survey, released Thursday by Information-technology Promotion Agency (IPA) Japan, showed that 7.4 percent of the users said it was fine to share their sexually explicit photos or videos online with people close to them, such as their partners.

By age group, those in their 20s accounted for 11.3 percent of the total willing to share such photos, the multiple response survey showed.

“Data sharing of photos and videos online carries risks such as that of revenge pornography. Once it is uploaded, it is impossible to completely retrieve or delete it,” the IPA said in a press release.

Revenge porn refers to the phenomenon of non-consensual distribution of sexually explicit photos or videos. Those who engage in acts of “revenge porn” include spurned former partners seeking vengeance.

To protect young people from exploitation, the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly is expected to pass and put into force on Friday a revised ordinance that penalizes acts urging children and youth under 18 to send sexually explicit photos.

The IPA warns users to avoid easily sharable information, saying that in principle, it is “wise” not to share private photos and videos — even to those with whom they are close.

“There are underlying risks of revenge porn, and cases where users mistakenly send photos to the wrong recipients,” IPA official Shigeki Tamura said, highlighting the dangers of sharing such data.

The survey was conducted in September and targeted male and female respondents aged 13 and older. It drew responses from 5,000 people.

The official said it is the first time a survey has included a question about those with whom people are willing to share intimate photos.

According to the survey, 7.0 percent said they did not mind sharing sexually compromising photos with their friends and acquaintances, while 3.6 percent said they are open to doing this with friends and acquaintances they are connected to only through social media.

While the percentage of respondents overall who said they did not mind sharing intimate images and videos with their partners was 7.4 percent, the percentage of male respondents willing to do so was 9.7 percent. The corresponding ratio for female respondents was lower, at 5.1 percent.

Sharing information online has become more prevalent at a time when people — especially young people — are increasingly using social media as a means of expression and communication, which can sometimes lead to crime.

In recent years there has been an increase in crimes known as “sextortion,” where one is lured into sending his or her intimate photos to someone over the internet and then later blackmailed or extorted for money in exchange for not having these photos distributed.

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