In the Cyberbullying Research Center blog, professor and cyberbullying researcher Sameer Hinduja took the time to alert readers to the latest representation of the Net’s darkside: “IsAnyoneUp,” a year-old site that he describes as “essentially a hybrid of social media and amateur pornography.” Dr. Hinduja links to other articles about the site, the first of which makes it sound like the go-to place on the Web for posting “revenge porn” and photos of naked band members (so unusually “balanced,” gender-wise, in what’s depicted there). And parents were concerned about Chatroulette (see below). The thing is, no matter how outrageous the site is or how many people have threatened to sue the San Francisco-based site’s owner, Hunter Moore, its use of people’s photos is technically legal under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, Dr. Hinduja writes (it’s reportedly also an easy source of evidence-gathering by law enforcement). Moore and his site “security” people reportedly vet all submitted content for illegal photos of children and teens under 18 before posting it. But Moore could well face a lawsuit from Facebook, whose attorneys last week sent him a cease-and-desist letter, saying his posting of FB is illegal. Twitter and Tumblr may follow, because – along with the photos people send him to post (submitting the photos supposedly constitutes a contract that allows the user to retain copyright ownership and absolves Moore from legal issues such as defamation) – Moore reportedly includes identifying screenshots from the Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other sites the people in the photos may be using. Facebook has also permanently banned Moore “and anyone acting on his behalf from accessing Facebook.com,” Hinduja writes, which may help if Facebook can keep up with everybody who might access it on Moore’s behalf. The outrage he generates calculatingly plays into his hands (and ambitions for personal visibility and viral marketing).
Moore is now in the process of developing an app and a nonprofit organization to fight sexting by people under 18. Which seems a calculated distraction from his site’s exploitation of abusive behavior and vulnerable people. It’s hard to imagine a worse kind of bullying than the posting of this kind of content.
* “Young people’s views about sexual content online”
* This isn’t the first exploitative site to have generated high controversy – in the past few years there was Stickam (see my coverage back in early and mid-2007, and ChatRoulette, which I posted about here.