'Revenge porn' site owner Hunter Moore sued for defamation
- 11 March 2013
- From the section Technology
The founder of a so-called "revenge porn" website has been ordered to pay $250,000 (£170,000) in damages for defamation.
Hunter Moore was found to have made false claims about the chief executive of an anti-bullying website.
Mr Moore used Twitter to falsely claim James McGibney was a paedophile who possessed child pornography.
Mr Moore's website used to post naked images of people without their permission. He closed it in 2012.
At the time, the site's closure seemed a sudden and dramatic change of heart - Mr Moore sold the domain, IsAnyoneUp.com, to Mr McGibney's website Bullyville.com.
"Back in April of this year, I convinced Hunter to shut down his now infamous "IsAnyoneUp.com" revenge porn website for a nominal fee," wrote Mr McGibney in a blog post about the recent lawsuit.
"Hunter was so convincing that he was going to turn over a new leaf and be an advocate against bullying, especially under-age bullying.
"Within 72 hours of that transaction being complete, Hunter was on Twitter cyberbullying kids worse than ever before.
"Telling kids that they should 'kill themselves' using vulgar, racist language and advocating more violence and revenge."
Mr Moore used his Twitter account, which has almost 150,000 followers, to make several derogatory comments about Mr McGibney.
Mr Moore encouraged others to post the claims in return for free clothing - Mr McGibney said he would be taking action against those that did so.
"'Internet tough guys' are also legally accountable for their actions," Mr McGibney wrote.
"Hunter and some of his followers now realise this, along with their parents since some of his followers appear to be under the age of 18."
The settlement amount was said to be a "conservative estimate" of reputational damage caused by Mr Moore's comments.
The money would donated to women's shelters across the US, Mr McGibney added.
Other sites, heavily inspired by Mr Moore's, carry out a similar purpose of posting naked images, often together with the victim's social-media profiles.
Mr Moore, and others like him, have typically been able to avoid direct action thanks to complex rules regarding uploading such images.
Typically, in cases where images are removed, it is because of breaches of copyright rather than because of the content of the photographs.
In an interview with the BBC last year, Mr Moore said of his site: "People obviously want it, and I'm going to give the people what they want.
"I'm just a businessman.
"I just monetise people's mistakes that they made and it's kind of a shady business. But if it wasn't me, somebody else was going to do it. All I did was really perfected the way to monetise people's naked pictures."
He has made repeated claims that he would relaunch his website - but this has not materialised, in part due to action by hacktivist collective Anonymous, who targeted the planned site towards the end of last year.
In addition to the defamation claim, Mr McGibney has launched a class action lawsuit against the site, and has invited users to come forward to share their complaints.
"We're doing this mostly for the completely powerless, under-age women who were verbally harassed after Hunter posted their completely naked, unedited photos on his site.
"We'll soon be launching a brand new site for IsAnyoneUp.com that not only shows the history and eventual dismantling of this disturbing website, but also brings valuable information to people who have been wronged by similar behaviour."
Mr Moore has yet to comment on the court order.
Lawyer Marc Randazza, who represented Mr McGibney in the case, has said he will help Las Vegas-based revenge porn victims for no charge.
In a blog post, he wrote: "If anyone out there has been scammed by these crooks, contact me."