courtesy wtvr.com CBS
EDITOR’S NOTE: This semester WTVR.com has partnered with VCU’s School of Mass Communications “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project. Those VCU students reported the following story.
By Alix Hines and Tina Irizarry (Special to WTVR.com)
RICHMOND, Va. – Dani Wynn received a call from her boyfriend last month, saying that she was featured on “Is Anyone Up,” a pornographic submission website. It is a site people use to post nude photos of others and take screen shots of their social media accounts so site visitors can contact them.
Wynn, an 18-year-old Richmond woman, said that her best friend took nude photos from her computer while they were hanging out and posted them on the website. She said that he claimed that she “friend zoned” him for long enough, meaning that she had not answered his advances to enter a relationship, so he turned to the website for revenge.
Within the first day of being featured on “Is Anyone Up,” Wynn said she received 93 friend requests on Facebook. By the second week she said that she had 173 friend requests from men who saw her on the website. Even after denying these requests, Wynn still regularly receives messages because of the website posting.
The California-based owner of the website, Hunter Moore, cannot be held legally responsible for the content of the website, said Bill Oglesby, a lawyer and an assistant professor in VCU’s School of Mass Communications. He said that the person who takes the nude photo is the copyright holder and the person who posts the photo is the person who will be held responsible.
Moore is the 26-year-old mastermind behind “Is Anyone Up,” who makes money from people visiting this revenge pornographic website. According to a recent article in The Village Voice, Moore publishes nude photos of 18 to 30-year-olds who have either “sexted” their significant other or had someone take photos from their personal computers.
“People will do anything for the extra couple followers on Twitter,” said Moore to The Village Voice. Forbes called Moore Facebook founder “Mark Zuckerberg‘s dark alter-ego.”
“He tells people not to post underage photos and says he will turn them in to authorities if they do. He says if anyone sees their photos there and objects to him, he will take them down”, said Oglesby. “However, there is evidence that some people have objected numerous times and their photos were not taken down.”
Shalise Bate-Pratt, Coordinator of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Services at VCU’s Wellness Resource Center, said that although Moore said he will take photos off of the website when asked, by that point the damage has already been done.
Wynn explained that some people get called “trolls” and people post hurtful comments. She said that she has not asked for her photos to be taken down because she hasn’t received any negative feedback.
Bates-Pratt said that Moore was also recently featured on AndersonCooper‘s talk show, saying that if people don’t want their nude photos on the internet they shouldn’t take them. Bates-Pratt added that what the public doesn’t realize is that people do things in relationships that are meant to be between them and their significant other and not for the public.
Bates-Pratt explained that a lot of college students don’t realize the dangers of sending nude photos of themselves. She said that people send these photos while they are in trusting relationships and then the person who receives the photo assumes they now own them. Bates-Pratt said that what people do not realize is that some use those photos to sexually harass their partners.
“Stalkers, abusive partners, sexual violence perpetrators, they often utilize these types of tools. Even though [Moore] may mean it in a very innocent way or in a not so damaging way, there are people out there that are able to utilize these tools to terrorize the people in their lives,” Bates-Pratt said.
Bates-Pratt also said that the emotional effect can vary for men and women, but that it is becoming more common for men to be featured on sites like this as well.
It is common for men to be praised for being featured on a website like this, but for women it is commonly looked at by the public as shameful, Bates-Pratt said. But both women and men often feel the negative effects of being featured on these websites.
Wynn said if she could say anything to Hunter she would want him to know that “You’re ruining lives. You can argue as much as you want that it’s their fault, but you’re blowing everything up. It’s people’s personal lives.”
Bates-Pratt also explained that more employers are searching potential employees’ names on Google before hiring. She said being featured on a website like “Is Anyone Up” could prevent a person from getting hired.
Most people, said Bates-Pratt, think something like this could never happen to them, but even Wynn had to face the reality that someone she trusted and called her best friend posted nude photos of her on the website.