The National Bureau of Investigation has landed in hot water over an instructional video published on TikTok cautioning people not to share intimate images. Critics found it places the blame on the victims of illegally shared images and so-called "revenge porn" rather than the perpetrators.
In its video, the central investigation authority of the Finnish police illustrated how intimate images posted by a couple could end up being shared indiscriminately. At the end of the video, viewers were urged to think twice before sending delicate photos to anyone or even before taking them at all. "The picture should not have been sent to anyone whatsoever, and it would have been better not to even take the photo in the first place", the narrator said.
In response, hundreds of commenters accused the Finnish police of victim blaming. Many found it outrageous that the video only focused on the actions of the victims, rather than those who share their content without consent. Others called for the police to simply explain that sharing other people's images or videos is not only wrong, but criminal. Still others called the video "unfortunate" and suggested that it wouldn't "lower the threshold" to seek help from officials "if this is their message".
Nea Lundström, one of the founders and active members of the campaign "Not our shame" that seeks to protect the victims of sexual crimes, was particularly appalled.
"The video is a clear indication of how a person who has been the victim of a sexual crime is still being accused in society. It is an indication of how we are still trying to restrict and suppress sexuality in the 2020s", Lundström told the newspaper Iltalehti.
In response, the NBI's communications unit explained that the video was meant as a warning to young people that after posting a photo, they may not be able to control its onward distribution and that it may never disappear after going online.
Subsequently, a new video appeared on the NBI's TikTok account, which included a warning that illegally disseminating photos could lead to charges of defamation, invasion of privacy, or dissemination of indecent images. Victims are advised to always file a criminal complaint in these cases.
In recent weeks, Finnish officials have been updating the country's legislation, broadening the definition of sexual harassment. The punishment for sending unsolicited images could thus range from a fine to prison sentence, depending on the severity and the scope of the crime. Various studies have revealed the prevalence of online harassment, including uncalled-for sexual images.