The Internet used to be, and at times still is, a place of anonymity. Opinions spew from uneducated fingers without consequence through blogs and vlogs alike. But anonymity is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Websites that offer interaction among strangers who are worlds apart, are often automatically linked to either an email account, or more commonly, a Facebook account to personalize and legitimize one’s identity.
The World Wide Web contains more websites for smut than nearly any other topic. Glossy images of perky blondes and brunettes are on constant display for any voyeur. Usually these sirens are out of reach for the common folk, confined to a digital recording or snapshot. That was until Hunter Moore, 25, filled a new void between nudity and anonymity on the Internet.
Moore is the founder and owner of Is Anyone Up? (IAU?), the popular ex-girlfriend revenge-porn website. Jaded lovers post risqué and often explicit images of their exes to offend and humiliate them, often with a running commentary.
The site is set up as a blog that features little text and many images. Moore’s posts mainly consist of young men and women in various states of undress. Each provocative picture includes a headline and screenshot of the featured person’s Facebook profile. Personal details about where the person lives, works and educational background are on display for everyone on the Internet. Entries are enabled for comments where on-lookers rate people’s bodies, dissecting every imperfection. Comments are linked to each commenter’s Facebook account, making their information available as well.
The type of people that are most often showcased on IAU? are a particular breed of young people today: typically tattooed and/or pierced, a blend of potential American Apparel and Hot Topic employees. They are thin, trendy and attractive. Submissions that don’t fit into Moore’s definition of attractiveness are labeled, less pleasantly, as Gnargoyles. Moore updates the site with submissions made by members of popular alternative bands such as Chiodos, Buried in Verona, The Lostprophets, A Sky Lit Drive and A Day to Remember. Moore himself also appears in the nude occasionally. There are even special acknowledgments made to band groupies, accompanied by a list of their alleged affairs.
Surprisingly, the concept behind this kind of a website is perfectly legal for Moore to operate. Forbes Magazine explains that, “Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects site owners from legal liability for the things that their users post.” As the owner, Moore just plays the role of publishing content that is provided by others.
People unwillingly featured on the site who don’t appreciate the attention, can contact Moore to have the images removed. “If someone has a real job, like a school teacher or something, I don’t want to ruin their life,” says Moore to Forbes. “There’s a never-ending supply of photos anyway.”
The flip-side of the vindictive picture submissions is the community of self-submits, where the owner of the pictures requests to have their images published. Former SCAD student, Taylor Hamlin, is one such submission.
“I self-submitted because I was bored,” said Hamilin, 20. “I wasn’t looking for hookups. I just wanted a reaction, and that’s what I got.”
More than 1,000 friend requests as a matter of fact. Like other submitters, Hamlin just sees the site as entertainment and not as something to take seriously. But in the age where employees and colleges use social-networking and Google to evaluate applicants, how long can it just be fun and games? For Hamlin the consequences of her images have been minimal, mostly garnering extra attention from over-sexed males. But for others, a personal “sext” message to a short-lived flame can leave a lasting impact on one’s personal and professional life.