Chinese woman who found her video on Pornhub creates app to help other victims

·3-min read
File Image: Pornhub has often been accused of letting content posted without a person’s approval remain online  (Getty Images)
File Image: Pornhub has often been accused of letting content posted without a person’s approval remain online (Getty Images)

A Chinese woman who discovered a video of herself had been uploaded on the adult website Pornhub without her knowledge has founded an app for victims of non-consensual pornography.

The 25-year-old found out about the video of herself, which was recorded without her knowledge, on the porn website after her friend alerted her. She is now working with a team to create an AI-based app to help women find content with their faces online.

The app, Alecto AI, named after a Greek goddess of fury, who punishes those who commit moral crimes, works by scanning users’ faces and then searching for their images online.

In an interview with This Week in Asia, the 25-year-old who did not wish to reveal her details and asked to be identified as Tisiphone — Greek goddess of vengeance, said the most efficient way to tackle the problem is through facial recognition software.

“Damage control is particularly painful [for survivors]. The infringing content is sometimes hosted on various platforms … It is difficult to search for this content scattered all over the internet while being forced to relive our trauma over and over again,” Tisiphone, who worked for the content policy team of a prominent US tech company, was quoted as saying. “We can’t defend ourselves unless we have access to technology that can help us do so.”

She says her goal is to create an app that is “powerful, unbiased and compassionate”.

She also told This Week in Asia that the existing tools have a lower accuracy rate when it comes to women and people of colour. To make the app more useful, she has a team of five women of colour.

“We are disrupting not only content policy and revenge porn, but also disrupting facial recognition, making artificial intelligence more human-centred,” she was quoted as saying.

While speaking to the website, she also opened up about her experience and trauma after discovering her video on Pornhub.

“The incident happened maybe seven years ago. I was really young, a teenager … I had no idea that monster had secretly filmed me until I saw my video on Pornhub,” Tisiphone said. “It was really devastating. I consider myself a very strong person and well educated, but that was the moment when I literally stopped and thought, ‘I can’t live any more. I don’t want to live anymore.”

She said she climbed up the fence on the roof of her building, wanting to end her life and barely survived.

“At that time, it was for me the only way to get out of it, because I was so ashamed, and I was so scared. I felt like I was betrayed by the whole world,” Tisiphone said.

“I survived, barely,” she told This Week in Asia.

According to a study carried out in Australia, the UK, and New Zealand in 2020, more than one in three people have been victims of nude image abuse, which has increased from one in five in 2016. The rates of abuse were found to be similar across all three countries, ranging from 35-39 per cent.

Tisiphone said she is also conscious of making her app a safe space for users’ data and is implementing a number of security measures, including biometric verification and end-to-end encryption, including saving no data on its server.

Alecto AI is supposed to launch by the end of this year and will at first only be open to users who pay a monthly fee, although the founder hopes she can make it free for users later on by enlisting companies like Facebook as sponsors to help pay for her technology.

“We are doing everything we can to protect users’ privacy and make sure that it’s not abused by some random third party. We will continue to enhance our algorithm to make sure it can help people,” she said.

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