Is anybody horrified?
FTC blog posts don’t usually come with parental advisory notices, but in the case of Craig Brittain and his now-defunct revenge porn website, isanybodydown.com, we might need to make an exception. Because, in case you missed it: revenge porn.
According to the FTC, Brittain solicited sexually explicit pictures to post on the site:
- He asked people to send a picture of someone else, including their date of birth, town, state, phone number, and Facebook profile – and then he posted it all on the website.
- He posed as a woman on Craigslist and convinced women to send him pictures of themselves – and then he posted those pictures.
- He set up a “bounty” system, where anyone could ask others to find pictures of a specific person, in exchange for a reward of $100 or more.
All of the pictures and information were searchable online – and visitors also could post comments about the pictures. In fact, the “higher level of hatred” was one of the selling points of his website. You can imagine the impact on the people whose pictures appeared on the site – anything from getting unwanted contact from strangers, to worry about getting or losing jobs.
But Brittain offered a “solution” to this: for $250, someone could have pictures removed by using the “Takedown Hammer” service offered by the site. According to the FTC, Brittain posed as an attorney, operating this service.
So why did the FTC wade into this seamy underbelly of the online world? Because Brittain’s actions violated Section 5 of the FTC Act. The settlement announced today means that Brittain has to destroy the images and information from the site. In the future, he can’t post naked pictures online unless the person in the picture consents in writing, and he can’t lie – including about who he is or who’s giving him content for a website.
But there’s also a warning here for other revenge porn websites with similar practices: cut it out.