Hunter Moore Makes a Living Screwing You

The hated revenge-porn profiteer says he wants to teach a lesson with his web site. How long before the 26-year-old learns one himself?

Adding insult to injury is the site's dominant idiom. The archetypal submission is perhaps best exemplified by a February 2012 post of a young woman from Orlando, Florida, who had photographed herself with one breast exposed, tugging her bottoms provocatively low to reveal the plea "I'm Sorry Felix" written on her left hip, flanked by pointy red-Sharpied hearts. Felix apparently did not accept the apology.

This spirit of retaliation is dutifully pumped into the site's unofficial anthem, "Revenge Porn!" an electronica track from goth-rainbow duo Blood on the Dance Floor. "Cheated on me and broke my heart/Gonna show the world your private parts," sasses BOTDF co-frontman Jayy von Monroe over a gym-playlist house beat. The manic chorus twists the knife. "You always said you'd die to be fay-mous/You never thought it'd be because of your ayy-nus." This three-month-old single, which mentions Moore by name, is available on iTunes.

The porn site also directly inspired Eskimo Callboy's "Is Anyone Up," a skank-metal grave-rave hybrid by six German guys with an amusingly simple translation of the blog's fundamental purpose ("Your pussy/Your boobies/On the World Wide Web"), as well as a Forget Me in Vegas pop-punk tune by the same name, the Warped Tour's pip-squeaky answer to Rollins Band's "Liar." It's an obviously cynical synergy. For one, the demographically young site skews toward a similar under-35 audience who, according to online analytics tool Alexa, tends "to consist of childless men browsing from home who have no postgraduate education“ and ranges from 150,000 unique visitors on a Sunday to 240,000 on a good weekday, according to Moore. (Traffic-analysis monitor compete.com has the January 2012 audience peaking around 188,000.) For two, the site first built its name by publishing band-dude dong shots; eventually opportunistic alt-musician types started self-submitting nudes, in the hopes of publicizing their bands.

Dustin Fenstermacher
Moore, center here at a Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Is Anyone Up event last January, receives death threats, yet promotes his personal DJ’ing.
Nate “Igor” Smith
Moore, center here at a Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Is Anyone Up event last January, receives death threats, yet promotes his personal DJ’ing.

Details

The first breakthrough took place on February 2, 2011, back when the site had only 7,000 Twitter followers, Moore published shirtless nudes of Zack Merrick, bassist for the Baltimore pop-punk band All Time Low, whose name immediately became a Twitter trending topic. "That pretty much sealed the deal for me as far as nudes," Moore recalls now. "People were going to come to my site now for that shit." The same month, Moore was passed photos of Passion Pit's bassist showing off his schlong and posted them. Immediately, representatives from Columbia Records, the synth-pop band's Sony subsidiary label, got involved and threatened to sue.

Such corporate muscle was initially intimidating. "When I first started—probably about six months in—I would get scared," Moore admits. "I didn't know the law and didn't really know anything." For a while, he honored removal requests. "At first, I was just throwing Hail Marys out there. Then I got fucking wise. I found out the laws, and I was like, 'Fuck you.' I put creepy Passion Pit guy right back up."

As he soon discovered, Moore isn't legally held responsible for the user-submitted content to his site, thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, a federal law that protects Web hosts against legal claims arising from hosting third-party information, including libel or invasion of privacy. ("No provider or user of an interactive-computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider," reads the CDA's actual text.) It's this same powerful protection that prevents website owners from the venom posted to their comments sections and Facebook from being held culpable for users' words. The person lawfully responsible for possible offenses like, say, defamation of character or slander is the party who submits the photos to Moore's site—the jilted ex, the vendetta-settling former friend, Felix.

Is Anyone Up is also shielded from third-party copyright violations by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's Section 512. This means that Moore isn't directly responsible if an external user—even one who's obtained photos through a possibly criminal act like hacking—has submitted material to his site that belongs to someone else. But, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Mitch Stoltz, to keep this legal protection, Moore must "honor formal requests from the copyright owner to take the material down." Moore brags he doesn't, even though he gets "about 50" DMCA requests a day. "I get the one e-mail from them, and all I reply back with is 'LOL,' and then I never hear back from them again." (Assuming he's telling the truth, this negligence could eventually contribute to the site's undoing.)

Although these two protections allow a lot of freedom, Moore is understandably careful about underage content. He compares an image's embedded EXIF data, which includes a file-creation date, and cross-references that timeline with the subject's dates of birth, along with a separate age-verification process. "We Google everything about everybody before we put them up," he explains. He has access to another additional safeguard. "My uncle is a cop, so I can check how old everybody is and their records and shit."

Invariably, mistakes are made, especially when the submitter is dementedly conniving enough to alter file data. That's what Moore says happened last July, when he unknowingly posted underage nudes, and the female subject contacted him "freaking out." That same day, he pulled down the time-stamp-manipulated photos, acknowledged in a separate post that the error was "my fault," reported the guy to officials, but as per usual, launched a public retaliation spree by publishing the creepazoid's e-mail addresses, photograph, full name, and cell-phone number. To this day, a screenshot thumbnail of that guy's Facebook profile sits on Is Anyone Up's submission form alongside the warning "He submitted underage content, will you be replacing him here?"

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