Bumble Founder Partners With CA Senator To Criminalize Sending Unwanted Nude Photos

  • Thursday, December 26 2019 @ 10:15 am
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California state senator Ling Ling Chang
California state senator Ling Ling Chang

Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble, is on a mission to make the internet a cleaner, more clothed place. California state senator Ling Ling Chang recently announced that she has partnered with Wolfe Herd on a proposed law that would make it illegal to send unsolicited explicit photos online or via text. This comes nearly eight months after Wolfe Herd backed a similar bill in Texas.

For Chang, the cause hits close to home. She was the recipient of unwanted nude pictures in 2018, when she publicly shared her phone number in an effort to get feedback from her constituents in Diamond Bar, California. Chang claims that 95% of women she has spoken to about the issue have been sent lewd photos they did not ask for.

"We're in a digital world, and it is critical we protect online users," said Chang in a statement to The Sacramento Bee. "I've heard the horrific stories of women who have been victimized and digitally harassed. This is absolutely unacceptable. We need to send a message that this culture of online harassment must go."

Chang’s bill, which she plans to introduce in January 2020, would follow in the footsteps of the Texas legislation, which made the sending of unsolicited nude photos a Class C misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500. Wolfe Herd campaigned in favor of the bill and worked closely with legislators and lawmakers to set it in motion.

Speaking to the Associated Press about the California bill, Wolfe Herd said: "Sending somebody a photo of yourself in an indecent manner in an unsolicited fashion is harassment, plain and simple. It's a gateway to more extreme forms of harassment and abuse and it should not be taken lightly, and it deserves consequences."

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2017 found that 21% of women ages 18 to 29 have reported being sexually harassed online. About 53% of those women said they had been sent explicit photos without their consent. In comparison, 9% of men in the same age group reported being the victims of online sexual harassment.

It is a crime in California to post “revenge porn” — graphic images that were intended to be private that are published with the purpose of causing emotional distress. California also outlaws stalking using electronic devices, such as cellphones. There is no law that specifically addresses the sending of unwanted lewd photos.

Following her success in Texas, where Bumble is based, Wolfe Herd says she is committed to fighting for similar legislation in California “to show that this is a nonpartisan issue.”

“This is a human issue,” she told AP.