Friday FREAK OUT! Revenge Porn King, Hunter Moore, arrested by FBI

20140123-222525.jpgHunter 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.

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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.

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Friday FREAK OUT! Revenge porn

This week there’s been a lot of talk about revenge porn. What is revenge porn, you might ask? Urban dictionary provides a good definition: “a nude photograph or video which is publicly shared online (most frequently by an ex-lover of the subject’s) for the purpose of spiteful humiliation.” There are apparently an abundance of websites that cater specifically to exes everywhere wanting to post the sexy pics they took of their previous partners. A few popular examples include isanyoneup.com and submityourex.com.

While revenge porn has been part of modern day culture since the dawn of the internet, it’s gotten a lot of attention lately because of a law suit against the website Texxxan.com. The NY Times highlighted the lawsuit in an article on Monday. This comes alongside legislation being considered in California to criminalize revenge porn. In only one state, New Jersey, is it a crime to distribute images without the subject’s consent. Since it’s not illegal, the posters, the websites, and/or the web hosts (such as GoDaddy.com) are not at fault for posting these pics. (They may not be at fault, but they are jerks. I guess being a jerk isn’t against the law. yet.) The call for criminalization legislation is spearheaded by endrevengeporn.org.

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Emily Bazeon’s piece in Slate makes an excellent point: Why do we tolerate revenge porn?

But while legislators are pushing for laws that criminalize the act of revenge porn, what can we do to help prevent it in the first place?
– Talk about the risks of sharing nude photos
– Talk about the responsibility of having nude photos
– Talk about what it might mean if those photos are shared publicly
– Talk about how it might feel for someone to be a victim of revenge porn
– Talk about how society both applauds and abhors revenge porn
– Talk about how if someone voluntarily seeks out and consumes revenge porn, that’s a way of promoting and encouraging the behavior
– Talk about how it’s really all about consent- the poster is sharing something without the consent of the subject
– Talk about how to cope with loss when a relationship has ended, and how to channel negative feelings about an ex into healthier behaviors that don’t involve violating someone’s privacy

We should have a no tolerance policy when it comes to doing things that are nonconsensual, and we also need to help individuals realize that revenge porn is at the end of the day, an unethical, and downright jerky thing to do. And no one wants to be a jerk.