|Anti-Bullying Site Closes 'Ex-Revenge' Porn Site|
|By NEAL KARLINSKY (@NealKarlinsky) , AUDE SOICHET and LAUREN EFFRON (@LEffronG)||Apr 19, 2012, 3:29 PM|
A website that provided a free forum for scorned lovers to post nude photos and videos of their ex's anonymously was sold to an anti-bullying website and then taken down Thursday.
"IsAnyoneUp.com served no public good. That is why it is offline," James McGibney, the founder of BullyVille.com, said in a statement. "The problem of IsAnyoneUp.com is now solved. In its place, BullyVille.com will exist to help people who are being bullied solve their problems through cooperation and thoughtfulness, rather than abuse."
BullyVille.com, a social website on which people can share stories about being bullied, was launched last Friday in partnership with Guns 'N' Roses lead guitarist D.J. Ashba, a personal friend of McGibney's.
Weeks before IsAnyoneUp.com was taken down, Hunter Moore, the so-called "revenge porn" website's founder, told "Nightline" he launched it as a place for "public humiliation." People could upload sexually explicit photos and video without a victim's permission, and include a screen grab of their Facebook account and a link to their Twitter account, for the whole Internet to see. A section on the website allowed people to comment on the photos and videos.
"Everyone was slamming [Moore] and saying what an a--hole he was, but no one was doing anything to try to fix it," McGibney told "Nightline." "No doubt, [Moore] was the No. 1 Internet bully out there and we took him down ... not a hostle takeover but in a politically correct way."
McGibney, who is also the founder of CheaterVille.com, a website that lets users post proof of their significant others cheating, said he first heard about IsAnyoneUp.com when he and Moore appeared on Anderson Cooper's daytime talk show to talk about their booming websites.
A big reason for taking the IsAnyoneUp.com site down, McGibney said, was that there were reported cases of people who had committed suicide after appearing on it.
McGibney said he told Moore, "'People are killing themselves and your talents are being misused,' and I was able to get through to him."
Several critics have accused McGibney's deal with Moore as a p.r. stunt, but McGibney fired back, saying he wanted to shut Moore down to "save people's lives."
Prior to the IsAnyoneUp.com shutdown, Moore, 26, boasted to "Nightline" that he was a self-proclaimed "professional life ruin-er" and he had no scruples about hosting the website because the people on it were simply "characters and avatars and icons on a screen" to him and he wanted to take "full advantage of people's mistakes." Moore also said IsAnyoneUp.com got nearly 5 million hits a month and brought in an estimated $20,000 to $30,000 a month in advertising revenue.
But on Thursday, Moore told "Nightline" that before selling his website to BullyVille.com for an undisclosed amount, he had "zero in my bank account from this," referring to IsAnyoneUp.com, and that he originally wanted his site to be "underground," but it got "too much attention" and made him feel "horrible."
"I am still Hunter Moore," he told "Nightline" on Thursday. "People didn't see me as a human being before but I got to a position now where I can actually help people without the site."
Prior to the IsAnyoneUp.com shutdown, Moore told "Nightline" he would get thousands of comments from people whose nude photos wound up on his site, pleading with him to take down the material, to which he would say, "You could probably stop taking pictures of yourself and this might not happen."
"I'm not doing anything wrong, in my opinion, but I wouldn't want to be on the site," he said. "I don't know these people. It's kind of anonymous to me. I think the people submitting it are the ones who should feel bad when they're clicking that submit button. So I don't feel bad now."
He also bragged about the multiple cease-and-desist letters and complaints he got from people's lawyers, and said his typical response was either to send a dirty picture or a simple "LOL." Just as YouTube hosts other people's videos, IsAnyoneUp.com fell into the same category -- the person submitting the picture accepts full responsibility just for uploading it.
"Your only remedy is against the person who took the picture and posted it," said Bruce Johnson, an attorney in Seattle who specializes in First Amendment and media cases. "There's no real remedy against the website that's posting that photo. The best advice is not to disseminate the picture to begin with."
None of the IsAnyoneUp.com victims "Nightline" contacted wanted to speak because they were worried about causing more damage to their reputation.