Jared Wolny, 24, and Tessa Komer, 21, started dating in July 2007 while attending the University of Georgia. The relationship was a whirlwind: Soon after discovering each other on Facebook and hooking up, they moved in together and, according to Wolny, bought a Great Dane and exchanged promise rings. But their union unraveled just as quickly as it had begun, and they broke up in January. Then things really went wrong.

Police say that after Komer started dating another man in the spring, Wolny hacked into her MySpace account and, posing as her, sent bogus messages to her new boyfriend. Wolny also allegedly installed spyware on Komer's computer to monitor her Web use and eavesdrop on her online conversations, and stole the IDs and passwords she used to access certain websites. But the alleged act that precipitated the situation and may turn out to be Wolny's undoing was his vengeful posting of nude photos of Komer on his Facebook page.

Wolny was arrested in May, soon after the pictures appeared online, and charged with 32 misdemeanors, including 14 counts of computer theft, 14 counts of computer invasion of privacy, and an identity-fraud charge for his alleged impersonation of Komer on MySpace. Currently free on $6,400 bond, Wolny is awaiting trial. "I don't want to go to jail just because we had a bad breakup," he told one reporter.

The first recorded use of the word revenge occurred in 1375, and porn came into common parlance in 1962, as shorthand for pornography. But the combination of the words is very much of the moment. Indeed, revenge porn popped up on Urban Dictionary as recently as October 2007, defined as "homemade porn uploaded by an ex-girlfriend or (usually) ex-boyfriend after particularly vicious breakup as a means of humiliating the ex."

While the act can lead to criminal charges, there's some debate over whether revenge porn, per se, ought to be codified as a crime. What's clear, however, is that it is part of the digital-age Zeitgeist. The ease of recording and transmitting sexually explicit images, the rise of Internet exhibitionism, and the ubiquity of a Girls Gone Wild mentality have created the contemporary version of writing "Jenny gives good head" on the bathroom wall.

The celebrity sex tape also factors into the revenge-porn equation. The release of salacious footage of two well-known figures—or even a rumor that such footage exists—qualifies not only as fodder for the weeklies but also as an acceptable form of self-promotion. The possible sex tape of The Hills castmates Lauren Conrad and Jason Wahler, which the actors deny exists, generated a huge amount of publicity for the show. Similarly, gossip sites went into a state of meltdown when it was rumored that Kevin Federline would go public with a tape of him and Britney Spears (both say there is no such recording) when the couple split. Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian's videotaped romp with her former boyfriend, the rapper Ray J, burnished her image as a sexpot.