A Vigilante Statement of Intent

Over the past year or so, I’ve been writing a series of investigative pieces documenting who I believed was operating so-called “revenge porn” sites.  It’s probably time that I explain why.((I mean, aside from the fact that it’s funny to reveal that a guy who was a professional pigeon racer now runs a revenge porn site.  Seriously, professional pigeon racer.  That post goes up tomorrow.))

With few exceptions, the people operating these websites go to differing lengths to obscure who is running the site.  There’s a reason for that.  Their friends, family, significant others, and professional associates probably wouldn’t be as supportive if they knew about their hobby of humiliation for profit.  So, too, would victims, lawyers, occasionally law enforcement, and the John Q. Public like to know who runs these sites, and why they run them: is it because they’re embarrassed, because they fear lawsuits, or because they’re engaging in outright extortion?

And I would like to know, too.  While there’s a debate to be had about the First Amendment implications of revenge porn, one thing is certain: more speech criticizing these sites, their practices, and their owners is protected.  Exposing and criticizing owners pressures them to end their practice, deters others from starting sites, and guides law enforcement, lawyers, and victims in locating the owners.

Thus far, I’ve written about IsAnybodyDown’s Craig BrittainTexxxan’s Hunter TaylorYouGotPosted’s Kevin Bollaert, and WinByState’s Casey Meyering.  One of these sites shut down voluntarily, two others after being sued, and two of these owners are facing extortion charges. While I would like to claim credit for taking these sites down,((There is always someone with a skill and too much time on their hands. I happen to be one of those people.)) much heavier lifting has been done by the victims who raised awareness and pressure on law enforcement to act, the law enforcement officers who did act, and the lawyers who navigated new legal territory.  Perhaps I’ve had no impact at all.

Nonetheless, I believe that public pressure — more speech — works.  One site, AnonIB.com, shuttered last week after its ownership was purportedly revealed and, in its stead, issued a statement:

Apology to the girls who were posted on site against their will and especially those that had to donate to have their pictures removed. Its a warning to those that abuse others online. There are forces that work to track and expose them, and those forces WILL win in the end. There are plenty of girls and boys, women and men, who willingly want to be naked on the internet so post their pictures instead.

By my count, three dedicated revenge porn sites remain.  I know who owns each of these sites and, often, the people who support them.  They should and — if their sites remain online — will be criticized.

Tomorrow, another name gets added to the list.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    “those that had to donate”
    Really? Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?
    perhaps the words “those who we extorted cash from” would have been to forward and left them “open” in some fashion to even more lawsuits, which undoubtedly are in a pipeline somewhere.

    I am often confused by the response of society towards revenge porn. It is a horrible thing, what happened to these girls is horrible… BUT nice girls don’t take naked pictures.

    People love to blame the weridos who stalk the women, but ignore their own part in giving them the power to cause havoc for the victims. If people stopped saying judgmental things about people they do not know who were targets and could express sympathy without the heaping side helping of moral judgement… would the game lose its appeal? If we accepted everyone was born naked, some people like to take naked selfies, and dropped the morality lines… would it lessen, even a little bit, the hell some of these victims are in? They have been betrayed and/or hacked and at their most vulnerable sharing with another human find themselves thrust into the maelstrom… and so many people sympathize, but not enough to hold their tongues.

    The next time you hear about someone targeted and see someone start the judgement, stop them. Remind them they are in no place to judge someone else, and this judgement is what gives power to the fsckwads who harass.

    The world would be a better place if people learned to be supportive without the morality casserole on the menu as well.

    • Onethought

      The comment “nice girls don’t take naked pictures” is way off base. Having worked in photo stores as a young person (yes I am that old) at least two to three times a week there nudes that ran through our shop. Your spot on saying society needs to alter that thought . The law needs to catch up with the technology we have. Two cases where the law didn’t match up with the technology were recently dismissed. Revenge porn is extortion, manipulation and I imagine terror inducing. Those that operate these websites should be charged, those that upload the pictures should be charged. Search engines should eliminate these sites from their crawls. Basically it needs to be outlawed period.

      • That_Anonymous_Coward

        The law will never stop this despite us wanting it to.
        It is against the law to
        - Drink and Drive
        - Text and Drive
        - Use illegal drugs
        - Insert a million other things here

        Some -expletive deleted- will do this again, law or not.
        If we could change societies reaction to it, we could make it less “fun” for those doing it.
        They are getting off on the wreckage they cause the victims, and every person who piles on with the ‘but if you were a nice girl this wouldn’t have happened’ is like stroking their “egos” again and again.
        In a perfect world their sites would get no traffic but huh it seems there are a whole buncha people visiting those sites.

        We need to get people to understand how they enable the horrors, and get them to change. It is more effective than a law ever will be, once you take away the joy and cash for those running the sites… they fold up. If laws were broken arrest people, but let us not make knee jerk laws that won’t stand up to the core rules of the country.

        • Onethought

          I agree that making a law won’t stop the activity but it would certainly makes it clear that there are consequences to these actions. If an ex stood outside a home, a place of work etc. and invited people to look at naked pictures and instructed them where the ex lived and that the ex would have sex with them if they went up and asked for it, they would be arrested. The law does not stop the behavior but the consequences of doing that make it viable only to those with no real judgement or those with a demented mind. Revenge Porn is the same thing except it carries no consequences and the effects are far more damaging. The first amendment is completely fine under the scenario of someone standing outside a home or place of work and it should not change just because the same invitation was published on a webpage. Speech like this is not in the public good at all. I believe it should be criminalized just like child pornography. That in my opinion will take the fun out of this for the trollish people who do this. It won’t unfortunately stop the practice, it will however drive t deep down and away from public eye and make anyone who does it a complete societal pariah

  • J.R.

    Keep fighting the good fight… glad people like you are out there

  • Will

    *Folds fist up silently*

  • Will

    *Holds fist up silently*

  • Temper

    I am in love with your brain, sir. If you need ANY help, the Washington Hero Initiative (www.facebook.com/wai.seattle) will do whatever you need.

  • Sarah

    Yes, exposing these predators is the most powerful thing you can do ! AS more and more people become aware of these owners, more will come out of the woodwork about how their lives were ruined by these sites.

    I’ve had my pictures stolen and posted on these sites and it is a nightmare at times trying to take down my pictures. The people who own these sites hide all privacy policies and contact information on their site. They infect your computer with viruses and screens of other porn sites pop up as you try to find a contact email, only to find there is none. They hide behind very ambiguous information and names when they register their sites and so it is often difficult to find their correct hosting company and you end up contacting at least three until one of them, out of the kindness of their hearts, tells you the correct one. Many give up trying to take down their pictures, because we run into loophole after loophole of ambiguous site and hosting names, they provide on purpose to confuse anyone trying to gather information on them.
    When you have an article about an owner of one of these sites and a picture! Adam, it is like you have caught gold for many of us who have been running loophole after loophole trying to even find an email of anyone to contact and pray to God they respond.

    I’d love to throw rotten eggs at these predators haha!! I”m sure many would love to throw other things, but we shall remain civil here.
    Thank YOU!!