IsAnyoneUp.com and the Porn Generation 

How 25-year-old "life ruiner" Hunter Moore used revenge porn to get famous.

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At 25 years old, San Francisco entrepreneur Hunter Moore has what some people spend a lifetime trying to achieve: his own entry in UrbanDictionary.com. And it's pretty accurate: "25 year old scenester, professional life ruiner, porn hairstylist." Used in a sentence: "Hunter Moore is making money off your nude text messages."

Yep. About a year ago, Moore launched the "revenge porn" website IsAnyoneUp.com, a blog that posts user-submitted photos of naked ex-lovers, including their full names. At that time, Moore was a beauty school grad, hair stylist for local porn actors, sext message archivist, digital technology buff (he launched his first style website at age twelve), irreverent partygoer, total night owl (the domain name came from his habit of tweeting "Is anyone up?" late into the night, much to his friends' annoyance), and proud pervert. He was also stone broke, so he had to hustle to get the site started.

The idea was simple: People would submit nude photos (either of themselves, or of ex-lovers, or of random sexters), along with a screen shot of the subject's Facebook profile — which makes them completely identifiable. Moore bought the domain name with the idea of turning it into a personal blog, of sorts, in which he would publish first-person accounts — and criticisms — of all the parties he attended around the globe. (Moore says he parties "very, very hard," which makes him an expert.) When that didn't pan out, the idea of shifting to porn precipitated organically.

In fact, it began with one of his own relationships. "I was hooking up with this girl who was engaged to a very famous singer, and all my friends wanted to see her nude," he explained. Initially, Moore tried sharing the photos via instant messaging. But it only allowed him to communicate with one or two other users at a time. Then someone suggested that he simply post the photos to IsAnyoneUp. Moore conceded easily. At the time, he thought nothing of spilling another person's nude shots into the public domain.

And it didn't seem "public," anyway, since Moore assumed that viewership was limited to his group of friends. At first he furnished all the content, without offering any identifying information. Then his friends followed suit, submitting nude photos from their personal archives. Most of them had already amassed copious libraries of nudes. Moore said that's not unusual for people of his generation. "Basically, the [T-Mobile] Sidekick came out, and that started the nudes revolution," he added. "I've been sending my dick out to every person I met on the Internet for the last nine years."

But then it took off. One day, IsAnyoneUp.com got 14,000 unique page views out of nowhere. From there it metastasized rapidly. About four months ago, Moore began adding Facebook profile screenshots with each nudie pic, which created an extra layer of drama. Then he incorporated more incriminating information: photos of prescription bottles for herpes medication; scandalous tweets; even a copy of someone's citation for indecent activity with a child. Because the site appeals to a very specific demographic — namely, club rats with tattoos, all of whom appear to be in their early- to mid-twenties — it has the illusion of being insular. Which makes the comments seem extra catty. (Some examples: "This made my dick go inside me, please help." And: "Her vag has chicken pox." And: "Hey this is my buddy and I'm really upset I had to see his wiener.") If you visit the site and don't contribute, it's hard not to feel like an eavesdropper.

Yet Moore encourages discomfort and, evidently, it's a key part of his success. IsAnyoneUp manages to effectively combine the voyeuristic pleasures of porn with the fraternal ease of a social network, and the cruel, incisive comments merely add to that. Moore said that 40 percent of the entries are self-submits (he can usually deduce that by the e-mail address), and if that's true, it's easy to see why: People post nude photos not just because they're vain and vulgar, but also because they want to be part of a community. Like sexting, it satisfies an exhibitionist impulse, but also shows a desire to please.

And then, of course, there are the remaining 60 percent who haven't consented to have their pictures online. Many of them wind up there because of an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. Some probably don't know that the site exists. Some might not even have known they were being photographed. At the end of the day, Moore doesn't care. He treats the concept of "privacy" as a fallacy. He points out that even a small action on the Internet — say, filling out the submission form for IsAnyoneUp — can reveal volumes. "If I have all your info, and I know your IP address, then I know who pays your Comcast bill," he said, smugly. "People are retarded. I call my followers retarded every day."

That made it easy to track down August Jones, a nineteen-year-old Academy of Art student who found himself on IsAnyoneUp about a week ago. He said the pictures came from a girl he was seeing in St. Louis. "I was talking to this girl and, I mean, you know, you send pictures," Jones said in a phone interview. Jones wasn't sure why she sent the pictures in ("I thought we were cool," he indicated) but he assumes it was probably a joke. Within a few hours of being on the site, he received a sudden uptick in Facebook attention. Friends sent messages alerting Jones that his pic was on the Internet.

He checked out the entry and read the comments. (Among them: "Look at the big dick vein. It's gawking." And: "I went to highschool with him..ah." And: "You're going to the Academy for photography and you couldn't take better dick shots?") Jones had a strong enough sense of self-irony to laugh at the comments and decided that, ultimately, he's not tripping. "I really don't give a shit," he said, adding that he currently has about eighty or ninety Facebook friend requests. And, furthermore, he doesn't begrudge the girl who sent his pictures in. "Honestly," he said, "if I had thought about it I would have done the same thing, just to get her back."

Jones certainly isn't the only person to parlay Internet porn fame into real-world popularity. In July, Moore was the subject of a mostly positive profile in Forbes. Today, the site is wildly popular. Moore said the last time he checked the Google analytics, they showed 28 million page views a month, 4 million visitors, and 1.5 million "uniques" per month. Traffic has only increased since then, because Moore connected the site's commenting application to Facebook, which encouraged more visitors.

That upsurge only helped enhance Moore's cult of personality, and his profitability: IsAnyoneUp earns enough ad revenue (from music labels, other porn sites, and clothing lines) to be self-sustaining. Moore just completed a regional self-branding tour, for which he threw dance parties in several East Coast cities. He has more than 16,000 followers on Twitter, and a one-word profile: "Hated." He's reached a new threshold of fame-for-fame's sake. "When I was in Canada walking down the street, some girl came out of a store and she was, like, 'Hunter?'" he recalled. "Then in New York City there were like four hundred kids chanting my name."

Which, of course, begs the question: Is this legal? Well, yes. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects websites from defamation, libel, or invasion of privacy suits for content submitted by individual contributors. That law covers any material that's not criminal or copyrighted, which is why Moore takes a few extra precautions on his web submission form.

People submit photos to a cloud-based server, have to "take full responsibility for the content," and also acknowledge that the person in the image is at least eighteen years old. Moore uses Facebook to verify the nude person's age, and sends the IP address of those who send photos of minors to a lawyer, who in turn hands it to law enforcement. For that, Forbes deemed him "almost ... a do-gooder." Moore said that he tries to exclusively use cell phone photos rather than professional portraits, since cell phone pics aren't usually copyrighted.

Thus, the language in Moore's contract makes individual submitters legally liable for the content they submit, while protecting Moore. And those who do get caught breaking child porn laws are tarred and pilloried: At the top of the web submission form is a screen shot of the Facebook profile for one such offender, with the line, "He submitted underage content, will you be replacing him here?"

But the truth is, Moore's precautions aren't foolproof. It's easy for minors to lie about their age (and their identity, for that matter) on Facebook — in which case Moore would not be protected from criminal prosecution.

Apparently, that's a risk he's willing to take. And he's become increasingly brazen about it. With Section 230 as his shield, Moore is reluctant to remove images from IsAnyoneUp, even when subjects beg, cry foul, or threaten lawsuits. He says that about seventy "cease and desist" orders are clogging his Inbox right now, and he just ignores them. He's even received subpoenas from lawyers demanding the IP addresses of his contributors — like the person who submitted XXX photos of the granddaughter of some high-profile GOP financier — and he brushed those off, too. And according to First Amendment Coalition Executive Director Peter Scheer, a cease-and-desist from a lawyer doesn't have any force of law. Thus far, Moore has never received an actual court injunction.

Whether he borders on being a "do-gooder" is certainly a point of contention; "life ruiner" might be more apropos. But there's no question that Moore is dredging up some interesting questions about prurience and personal responsibility. He adds between fifteen and twenty images to IsAnyoneUp each day from a seemingly bottomless pot, and more are always available in the queue. That alone says something about how often we sext, in a culture that's dominated by online dating, social networking, and random hookups. You do it at your own risk, but it turns out most people don't mind taking that risk. Moore certainly doesn't. He has his own profile on IsAnyoneUp featuring — yes — a bunch of cock shots.

But he also knows the joke's on everyone else. "If I ended my site today," Moore said, "I'd be a huge database for employers."

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