Hunter Moore, described as the revenge porn king and the most hated man on the internet, has been arrested, charged with ‘conspiracy to access a protected computer’, among other charges. Moore was the founder of the now-defunct website isanyoneup.com, where users posted pictures (usually of ex-girlfriends/boyfriends, usually with little/no clothing) without the knowledge/consent of the photo’s subject. Moore’s site was particularly nasty, since alongside that compromising photo, the subject’s name and other identifying information was included, so it would be certain to come up in a google search. After much public and private backlash, threats, and serious ‘come-to-jesus’ sit-downs with the FBI, Moore sold the site to an anti-bullying website, bullyville.com.
Moore’s arrest is some great news for advocates who have been trying to outlaw revenge porn in the first place, such as End Revenge Porn. Yes, Moore has been indicted on charges of actually hacking into personal computers to get his content- which is definitely illegal, while revenge porn sites themselves remain lawful in many states (for now). But Moore’s arrest brings awareness to this issue and highlights the need to talk about using technology in healthy ways- not as a method to take revenge on a partner, not as a method to relish another person’s humiliation, and not as a method to take advantage of someone’s vulnerability. I don’t have a legal solution to revenge porn- there are so many legal intricacies regarding free speech, right to privacy, etc, that it’s definitely in a lawyer/policymakers realm, and my expertise is in education.
SO how can educators help prevent revenge porn from ruining someone’s life?
– Talk about what revenge porn is. By defining and describing it, you will raise the awareness of its impact.
– Discuss how revenge porn can affect a victim. Share some stories of people who were subjects of photos posted without their permission.
– Examine the reasons why someone would post a photo as an act of revenge, and then encourage alternative approaches to responding to hurt feelings.
– Explore what part consumers of revenge porn play. Demonstrate how if there is no audience for revenge porn, then its value will decrease.
– Ask how peers can influence each other to make responsible choices regarding taking photos, having photos taken, and consuming photos.
Be mindful that while you may be tempted to come down hard on revenge porn and denounce it left and right (as I would like to do!), it may not open the door for behavioral change for those who are already engaging in revenge porn (as a poster and/or consumer). As an educator, facilitate the discussion with a neutral perspective and let the criticism come from the participants, as it surely will. I’m no fan of revenge porn and the thought of it makes me cringe, but we have to put those cringes aside in order to reach those who have already bought into it.