Truthdigger of the Week: @KYAnonymous
Hunter Moore is doing something few people concerned with how others regard them would likely ever do. He has created two websites that invite disgruntled users to publish nude photos of ex girl- and boyfriends along with their names, links to social media profiles and, until a short while ago, their physical addresses.
In an interview with BetaBeat in late November, the 26-year-old bragged about his new site’s mapping feature, saying visitors would “be able to stalk or do whatever they want to do — I know, it’s going to be scary as shit.” He retracted the promise in a separate interview later on, saying he was “drunk and coked out” when he mentioned the feature, but caused readers to feel confusion and disgust again by saying that “if someone fucking got killed over my site I’d make a shit ton of money. I’m not gonna lie.”
In yet another interview broadcast this year, Moore said his intention “was to hurt people and hurt the girl, or girls, that did hurt me” after his previous relationships ended. When a girl who became a victim of Moore’s brand of social media talked about being called names and otherwise bullied by his followers on Twitter, Moore responded by saying the Internet has made expectations of privacy unrealistic and that the capitalization of “revenge porn” is inevitable and by implication permissible.
“I don’t know how you can point your finger at me,” he said. “You took the picture. I mean, I’ve been justifying this in my head for over a year and a half. … At the end of the day, it started with you and you took these pictures. … I mean, it’s 2012. What do you expect to happen? Somebody’s gonna monetize this and I was the person to do it.”
Moore’s failures of conscience and morbid taste for publicity have attracted attention from all corners of the Web. The interested parties include members of Anonymous, a collective of digital vigilantes who use their hacking skills to oppose surveillance and state and corporate control over the Internet. @KYAnonymous is the Twitter handle of a member of the group who published a video call to arms (see below) for his digital allies to discourage Moore through harassment. The operation, which bears the codename #OpHuntHunter, seems to have briefly crashed Moore’s site in early December and published a document claiming to contain his personal information, including his Social Security number and home address. At the time of this posting, HunterMoore.tv was inaccessible.
@KYAnonymous told BetaBeat that the group called for a mobilization against would-be “revenge porn” kings like Moore “because they destroy unsuspecting people’s lives, social lives and work lives and take advantage of some kind of bond of trust they once entered with the person who submitted the photo.”
“[H]unter Moore is enabling the sickos of the world to stalk and possibly rape, maim, or kill these people via tracking systems like GPS, Google maps,” the collective added, “and we don’t tolerate invasions of personal privacy to victimize someone.”
The legal basis for shutting down Moore appears uncertain. As The Guardian reports, he “enjoys some degree of legal protection” via the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Section 230 of the law states that website owners are not liable for material submitted to them by third parties, so although Moore appears personally free from the law, users who publish nude photos of others without permission are not. Says Mary-Rose Papandrea, an associate professor at Boston College Law School: “Section 230 doesn’t protect the people who actually provide the content. So that means that anyone who provides a photo to Hunter Moore’s website or any other website — Reddit, whatever it might be — Section 230 offers them no protection whatsoever.” Those people could be held liable for “intentional inflection [sic] of emotional distress and publication of private facts,” The Guardian reports.
Some courts may be willing to interpret the law in a way that would allow for the prosecution of Moore, however, Papandrea added. “There’s also a possibility that Section 230 will not protect people like Hunter Moore himself because there have been some courts increasingly willing to read an exception into Section 230 for ISPs [Internet Service Providers] or websites that have facilitated the posting of content that violates tort law or other law.”
Until the legal details are settled, it’s up to private crusaders like @KYAnonymous and the mob of digital do-gooders to threaten Moore with justice and protect the privacy and physical safety of those he exposes. For dedicating his or her knowledge and skills to the well-being of possible victims and encouraging others to do the same, we honor @KYAnonymous as our Truthdigger of the Week.
— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.