Sometimes the images themselves would not, if viewed in a different context, be considered "pornographic".
Whilst "revenge porn" is an inaccurate term for this growing problem, it is now a convenient short-hand in common usage.
Sharing intimate images without consent (or threatening to do so) might be done by a current or ex-partner, but there have been reports of image sharing by friends, ex-friends, acquaintances, dates, one-night-stands, or even strangers (if images are obtained by hacking).
Intimate photos shared on dating websites between strangers can re-surface years later or innocuous photos can be manipulated and distributed.
A brave new world Our lives are dominated by smartphones, which change the way we communicate and, importantly, the way we commence, conduct and end relationships.
It is commonplace for relationships to form through dating applications and for communication during a relationship (of any level of seriousness) to include taking or sharing photos or videos.
Ariel Ricci, barrister at Coram Chambers, Julie Pinborough, Founder and Director of the Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre and Frances Ridout, Deputy Director of the Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre consider the growing problem of “revenge pornography".
The vast majority of people have smartphones that can instantly take high quality digital photographs and videos.
Then with a single finger swipe, photos and videos can be shared with an intimate partner, friends, or the public using Twitter, Instagram, Whats App and Snapchat to name but a few.
The Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre refers to it as SPITE –"Sharing and Publishing Images To Embarrass", although this less shocking phrase has not yet grabbed headlines.
The reality is that there is still a category of distribution that is neither for revenge nor for embarrassment but can arise from thoughtlessness, or may be influenced by the desire for control, or by financial motives.
This creates a new dynamic to how friendships and relationships are conducted and increases the scope for abusive, controlling or vengeful behaviour.
Lawmakers around the world are scrabbling to play catch-up with technology. Some take issue with the phrase "revenge porn", as it does not fully and accurately reflect the growing problem of sharing sexually explicit images without the subject's consent, often with the aim of causing embarrassment, shame or distress.