Dozens of Women Join 'Revenge Porn' Class Action Lawsuit Against Texxxan.com

PHOTO: Dozens of women are getting revenge through a class-action lawsuit filed against Texxxan.com.
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Love may not last forever, but a recent lawsuit suggests digital images just might.

Dozens of women are seeking revenge on a sliver of x-rated cyberspace known as "revenge porn," where people post explicit photos of their exes out of spite, through a class-action lawsuit against Texxxan.com and the website hosting company, GoDaddy.com.

Mariana Taschinger is one of the women. She said she had just turned 18 when she reluctantly sent topless photos of herself to her then-high school boyfriend, whom she had been in a relationship with for more than a year and a half.

"He was like, you know, 'I love you, I would never do that, I would never want to share you with anyone,'" Taschinger said. "And now, five years later, it's coming back to haunt me."

Now a college student, Taschinger said those photos wound up on Texxxan.com and she confronted her ex-boyfriend about posting them.

"Of course, he denied it," she said. "But he posted pictures of 14 of his ex-girlfriends, so it is pretty easy to narrow down [who] it is."

Hollie Toups said she has no idea who posted dozens of topless photos of her on Texxxan.com, but she became outraged to learn that whoever acquired the photos also posted them with her name and personal information.

"I couldn't breathe, and then I started crying uncontrollably because I felt really helpless," Toups said. "Knowing that someone could, with a click of a button, take whatever information they wanted from you is really troubling. It almost makes me want to shower with my clothes on."

Lawyer John Morgan filed the lawsuit on invasion of privacy grounds against Texxxan.com and GoDaddy.com, which provides Web space for 54 million websites, including mainstream businesses. The class-action lawsuit began with 17 women, but dozens more have signed on in the past two weeks.

"I've also been getting a lot of emails and calls from women who have been victimized by other sites," Morgan said.

The lawsuit claims the sites are "designed to cause humiliation and emotional distress."

"This is a form of cyber human trafficking," Morgan said, "or as it has been termed, 'revenge porn,' has been termed 'cyber rape,' because they take photos of women for the purpose of dehumanizing them, for the purpose of degrading them, and they go even further."

What makes this case unusual is that the lawsuit is also going after the websites' subscriber lists in an effort to tear away the mask of anonymity from the people who prowl the sites and the content providers.

Toups said she believes the subscribers are just as guilty as the people providing and hosting the content.

"[The subscribers] should be held accountable because they are logging on, they are putting their credit card in, they are paying to see us exploited," Toups said. "And again, if there weren't those degusting people paying, then maybe there wouldn't be a website."

But Eric Goldman, director of the Santa Clara University School of Law's High Tech Law Institute, said the women's legal case is weak because courts have ruled repeatedly that websites and Web hosts like GoDaddy.com are not legally responsible for material other people post.

"The plaintiffs can't win against the Web hosts, against the Texxxan.com website and against the subscribers due to a law that Congress enacted that said the only people liable for content online are the people who post it," Goldman said.

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