Written by: Susanna Lichter
Edited by: Suzanne Van Arsdale
Hollie Toups, the first named plaintiff in Toups v. GoDaddy, was harassed for weeks after nude pictures of her appeared on the website Texxxan.com alongside her real name and a link to her Facebook profile. When Toups requested that Texxxan.com remove the pictures, she was told by the website that they could help in exchange for her credit card information.[i] Texxxan.com is a “revenge porn” or “involuntary porn” website.[ii] The website and others like it act as repositories for nude photos of individuals submitted by their former boyfriends, embittered friends, or malicious hackers. On January 18, 2013 Toups and 22 other female plaintiffs whose nude photographs appeared on the website filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Orange County, Texas against Texxxan.com, Texxxan.com’s uploaders and subscribers, and the web hosting and the Internet domain registrar giant GoDaddy.com for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.[iii] They are seeking temporary and permanent injunctions shutting down Texxxan.com, damages,[iv] and class action certification.
Texxxan.com is one of a number of websites that have emerged in recent years seeking to capitalize on the proliferation of amateur porn facilitated by the digital age, and the humiliation it causes. Some, like Texxxan.com, insert pornographic photos into dating-site-style profiles that include screenshots of or links to the person’s social media pages and real name. Others, like IsAnybodyDown?, include more invasive details such as the person’s phone number, address, school, place of work, and children’s names. Some allow people who submit content to assign the person to categories based on their age, weight, or alleged STD status, such as Your Mom’s Nudes for older women. Underscoring the fact that the postings are malicious and intend to embarrass the victim, websites like You Got Posted feature nude photos in which the person’s face is cropped out or obscured—likely the person taking or sending the image was attempting to preserve some privacy—alongside their name and pictures of their face taken from Facebook, revealing their identity. Websites like MyEx include a space for visitors to anonymously post harassing comments. Because of the breadth of information aggregated on the profiles, revenge porn pages are commonly at the top of Google search results[v] of the person’s name. (more…)