The suicide of a 31-year-old Italian woman has ignited debate about revenge porn laws, after her leaked sex tape became a viral meme online.
Tiziana Cantone was found dead in her mother’s home near Naples Tuesday, less than a year after a video showing her performing oral sex went viral.
According to Italian media, Cantone initially sent the video to an ex-boyfriend and several friends “who she trusted,” but the video was quickly uploaded to several porn sites and shared to various social media sites.
Soon after, screenshots from the video – clearly showing Cantone’s face and often featuring her full name – began circulating on social networks as memes referencing what she said at the beginning of the video: “Mi stai facendo il video? Bravo,” which translates to “You’re making the video? Good.”
The meme spiraled out of control after two well-known Italian soccer players – Paolo Cannavaro and Antonio Floro Flores – posted a video mocking the quote.
She eventually quit her job, moved to another city and tried to change her name.
Cantone fought hard to have the video, and the memes associated with it, removed from several social media websites. According to Italian newspaper il Fatto Quotidiano, she had filed legal requests with Google, Facebook Ireland, Yahoo Italy and YouTube to remove the content. Earlier this month, she won a “right to be forgotten” case against Facebook, forcing the social network to remove references of the video. However, she was then ordered to pay €20,000 in legal costs from the case.
In 2014, a European court ruled that any European citizen has the right to ask search engines to remove links to stories that include their name. The so-called “right to be forgotten” ruling allowed people to request Google to remove everything from links mentioning criminal records, to embarrassing photos and negative press stories.
A year after the ruling, Google said it would censor unauthorized nude photos – otherwise known as “revenge porn” – from search results; however, the decision was limited to nude photographs.
“She was suffering from everything she saw and heard and in particular from the outcome of the legal proceedings, because she believed justice had not been done,” her mother told La Repubblica newspaper.
News of her death has ignited outrage in Italy, with many social media users speaking out about how Cantone was treated.
“I read now of suicide by Tiziana Canton: makes me much impression the whole dynamic. If it was a man would have been a cool.”
“Tiziana Canton is a victim of beasts that make the bullying and the idiocy of their hobby. Shame on you animals.”
“The #TizianaCantone story is an example of how we’re slaves to the judgment of others and never really free.”
In a statement to Italian media, the head of the psychologists’ association of Italy’s Campania region, Antonella Bozzaora, stressed that women are”victims of a society in which there is a sexist mentality that leaves women open to constant harassment. It is a mentality that is still deeply rooted in our country and in the Western world in general.”
Italy’s public prosecutor has opened an investigation into her death, according to The Independent.