A few brief updates about involuntary porn site IsAnybodyDown.com and its “Takedown Hammer” scheme. If you’re just joining us, a synopsis of the IsAnybodyDown.com controversy is here.
[Update: Chance Trahan responds at length [PDF]. He denies running the site and says that talking about him is cybersquatting, among other things. More below.]
[Update 1/7/2013: Chance deleted the above post (though here's a copy [PDF]) and replaced it with a new response. It’s a copy/paste of this post edited to tell his side of the story. Chance Trahan says that the “David Blade” / “Takedown Hammer” site is, alternatively, a “parody” or a “third party hiree.” Chance says he only designed the site, its logos, and created its Facebook account — the idea and content are Craig’s. Chance also maintains his claim that speaking negatively about or to him (without his permission) is “harassment” and “cybersquatting,” and that those criticizing him were hired to do so. Chance also commented on this post, below]
First, hacking group Anonymous, fresh off of gaining international attention for targeting involuntary pornographer Hunter Moore, has turned its attention to IsAnybodyDown and its founders. Moore’s arch-nemesis, Bullyville, is following suit.
Elsewhere, Chance Trahan now says that he doesn’t run IsAnybodyDown.com, but that it would be way cool if he did. He says his role was limited to creating logos for the site. This would seem to correspond with IsAnybodyDown’s description of him as their graphic designer. Because of this purportedly limited station, Chance says we have no right to scrutinize him:
Chance’s protestations that he doesn’t “run” the site don’t correspond with what Craig — and Chance himself – have said.
Chance now says he doesn’t “run” the site. But take a gander at how he described his role last month, before the media began calling (IADX.org is the shortlink for IsAnybodyDown.com):
Chance also had this to say to his family:
Update (12/19): In October, on the Instagram account that’s linked from his site, Chance posted this screenshot of a message he sent to gossip site TMZ about IsAnybodyDown, noting that it posts nude photos and phone numbers of people. In the Instagram post, Chance described IsAnybodyDown.com as “our website”:
The web design studio run by Craig and Chance lists “Is Anybody Down?” as one of their creations — in an article posted by Chance.
But wait, there’s more! Just three weeks ago, Chance took partial credit for IsAnybodyDown retiring Hunter Moore and keeping him out of the involuntary porn game. Neither of these things is true:
Nor was his role strictly limited to whipping up a few graphics. Twitter accounts purportedly belonging to both Craig and Chance were mirroring the tweets sent by @is_anybody_down. At a minimum, Chance was allowing his Twitter account to be used by Craig to promote the site. For example (the t.co link goes to IsAnybodyDown):
If Chance’s role was limited to making a few logos, Craig Brittain hasn’t done him any favors. For example, there’s this archived tweet from @is_anybody_down:
Or there’s Trolldown, where Craig heralded the beginning of a great legal battle with himself and Chance (among a great many others) on one side and all who hate puppies on the other. Or the On the Media interview, in which Chance was described as a “founder” of the site — and in his myriad of comments, Craig never bothered to qualify that description. Indeed, Craig referred to the site’s owners in plurals:
We’ll never be in front of a jury, because we haven’t broken any laws, and with each passing second, the credibility of our opponents and their bogus, unsubstantiated, loaded, circumstantial, false interpretations of the law evaporates…
If we had broken any laws, we’d already have been charged. We haven’t and we won’t be. The end.
Or there’s the Gust.com profile, in which the site seeks investors and lists Chance as a “co-founder.” Or the AngelList profile seeking investors and against listing Chance as a “founder.” Interestingly, Craig’s name has been removed since Marc Randazza started his campaign against the site.
But let’s suppose that Chance does just make logos. That would presumably include the one which advertised fake lawyer “David Blade, III”:
The photo used to make “Takedown Lawyer” ad above may have originated from stock photo site iStockPhoto.com. This image from ProsperityMirror.com (registered by and apparently designed by Chance Trahan) also appears on the same stock photo site. While by no means conclusive, the common origin of these images — and Chance’s claim that he designed graphics for the site — suggests that Chance may have created the above “Takedown Lawyer” ad.
Why would Chance be designing ads for a purportedly independent advertiser? Color me skeptical that Chance had no idea that “David Blade” didn’t exist or wasn’t a real lawyer. Given the above, I doubt that Chance’s role in this sordid affair was an arms-length transaction. The nature of the “David Blade, III” scheme — and the great deal of public attention to these controversial sites, which profit off of the scrutiny of others — merits scrutiny of Chance’s involvement, whatever it may have been.
UPDATE: Chance’s response:
Chance has responded in a lengthy diatribe, denying again that he runs the site:
Now, whether I run that site or not, I was hired to help design and rank it in the Alexa site ranks. [...]
Just because I talk to someone privately about his website does not mean I authorize people to post on the internet that I run it publicly. Because I don’t run the site. Craig won’t let me anymore, he only pays me for logos and he won’t even let me do that anymore after all of this. [...]
In other words, Chance does not “run” IsAnybodyDown.com. He only designed the site, worked on its search engine rankings, let Craig use his Twitter account to send out 100+ tweets about the site, and said nothing publicly to contradict Craig’s characterization of him as a “co-founder” (until now, anyway). And even if he did run it, Crag won’t let him run it anymore.
It’s quite clear — at least from my perspective — that Craig Brittain is primarily responsible for the site. That doesn’t absolve Chance of being quite involved with — and responsible for — the purpose of the site.
Nor does it immunize him from criticism. Chance says that we need his permission to mention his name or criticize his involvement with a site he says is “infamous.” No, we don’t. Talking about someone is not “cybersquatting,” nor is it “harassment.”
Lastly, Chance makes a lot of noise to say that “falsified documents” have been posted about him (where?), that I created an account for him on a gay dating site (what?), that I’m being paid by Bullyville.com (I thought I was being paid by Big Porn…), that I forced him to freestyle rap on Twitter to defend himself (I promise to never do this again), that Marc Randazza is supposedly paying Anonymous to hack the site, etc. I’m beginning to have trouble distinguishing Chance and Craig’s crazy theories from those of Jonathan Lee Riches.
[I'd ask Chance for comment, but he has spurned prior requests for comment as 'harassment.' My prior offer stands: if I've made a factual error, I'm happy to correct it; if Craig or Chance want me to include a response, I'm happy to post it. I can be reached via email here.]