Revenge-porn website victims launch action against Texxxan and GoDaddy

Filed Under: Featured, Law & order, Privacy, Social networks

XXX sign, courtesy of ShutterstockA revenge-porn site that publishes victims' names and XXX-rated photos without permission is a "blight upon society" and a "sick, cowardly enterprise" that serves "no useful, social or economic purpose".

Seventeen thusly victimized women have joined a class-action lawsuit [PDF] against revenge-porn site Texxxan.com, as well as GoDaddy for whatever profit it got off hosting a site dedicated to their humiliation.

The suit claims invasion of privacy and mental anguish.

It reads:

"The Defendants who own this website, or who contribute to its contents, or who subscribe to this website, are fully aware that they do not have permission from any of the women victims to publish their photographs or their other personal information. As such, the Defendants... are all acting in a deliberately reprehensible manner to participate in activity that they know to be malicious, hurtful and harmful."

The Plaintiffs have named GoDaddy since it profits off the "offensive and tortious conduct" of Texxxan.com, the suit says.

The class-action suit was filed on January 11 by John S. Morgan, an attorney in Texas, in the US, on behalf of women who claim that their ex-partners sent stolen nude photos of them to Texxxan.com as retaliation for being spurned.

Morgan told the Houston Chronicle that he was initially contacted by Hollie Toups, a Beaumont, Texas woman who found a picture of herself on the site.

Since then, other victims have signed on to the suit, he said.

Man at computer, courtesy of ShutterstockSuch sites, going back to the infamous IsAnyoneUp revenge site run by Hunter Moore (aka The Most Hated Man on the Internet), are now protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which states that websites aren't liable for user-submitted content.

Or as Mr. Moore interpreted his legal defense in an interview with BetaBeat's Jessica Roy:

"No one can do sh*t and I don’t give a f*ck."

Morgan is most certainly going to attempt to "do sh*t" to Texxxan.com. He's going after the revenge-porn industry as a whole, he says, calling them "sickos who post private information of women without their knowledge."

Beyond those who profit from Texxxan.com, Morgan plans to sue all those who've signed up for a subscription on the site.

Subscribers pay a monthly fee to get access to more personal information of the women in the photos. After news of the suit broke, Texxxan.com became viewable only to its members, according to the Houston Chronicle.

As for why the suit names GoDaddy, Morgan told BetaBeat that it's a question of corporate responsibility:

"GoDaddy is profiting off of it. The reality of it is at some level this issue of revenge porn has to become a public discussion and a legislative discussion and it raises issues of corporate responsibility. Why would an organization like GoDaddy want to give its name to this type of website?"

(As BetaBeat points out, if Morgan seriously has to ask that question, he mustn't have ever seen GoDaddy's ads.)

This is the kind of legislative payback that makes sense, not the kind that we saw Anonymous try after it went after Hunter Moore.

Revenge wording, courtesy of ShutterstockA commenter on my coverage of Hunter Moore accused me of sympathizing with the king of revenge porn.

That is incorrect.

I did, in fact, call Moore a victim of vigilantism. When the Anonymous-affiliated jump somebody, whomever they jump is a victim of vigilantism. That seems like a pretty simple equation: if vigilantes mug you, you're a victim of vigilantism.

Calling him a victim doesn't mean I sympathize with Moore, however. I simply want to see him taken down in an effective manner.

Doxing somebody's private information is far from an effective manner of putting him out of business. It's ironic, but when Anonymous comes calling, they don't put scumbags out of business. They just raise scumbags' public profiles and garner headlines.

Legal action, on the other hand, has the potential to actually stop reprehensible, victimizing behavior such as that conducted at Moore's revenge-porn sites and at Texxxan.com.

Good luck to the courageous women who've signed on to the lawsuit. Best wishes, and may the courts rule in your favor, for the sake of all victims.


XXX sign, revenge wording and man at computer images courtesy of Shutterstock.

, , ,

You might like

10 Responses to Revenge-porn website victims launch action against Texxxan and GoDaddy

  1. Jack · 551 days ago

    I believe they are right, GoDaddy needs to look at what it's doing. I believe that the site should not be liable for what a user posts, unless what they post is the basis to the site and humiliation of people, that crosses the line

    It is difficult to draft legislation, but at some point we need to take any site that it's principle goal is to humiliate select persons is not what our country is about. Free speech and publication is great, but to exits for humiliation is quite beyond the limit. Of course this can't be taken as a blanket statement either.

  2. James · 551 days ago

    While I don't approve of sites such as that, people need to learn to think twice before taking explicit pics of themselves. This paragraph below in particular indicates that.

    The class-action suit was filed on January 11 by John S. Morgan, an attorney in Texas, in the US, on behalf of women who claim that their ex-partners sent stolen nude photos of them to Texxxan.com as retaliation for being spurned.

    Stolen that is the word used. How many were actually taken by an ex? How many were sent out to an ex or to someone they had a long distance relationship? If you agree to any explicit pictures, self taken or by someone else you run the risk of it getting out on the net. Especially when they are sent to other people. How exactly did these exes even steal this pics. I seriously doubt most of the pictures were actually stolen. I am not defending the exes though. Spreading the pics on the net like buttholes isn't a nice thing to do. But the people posing for these pics need to learn some responsibility too and learn to use their brains.

    As for websites profiting off it. Well I can't say I blame them for taking advantage of this situation. Obviously there is a market for it so they tried to make some money. Still it isn't right. Though if this website in particular wasn't around, I am sure the exes would have found some other website to post it on and let the pics get spread around the net.

  3. Freida Gray · 551 days ago

    While Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was most likely intended to protect webmail & social networking sites from prosecution for what their users put on those sites;as is often the case,the "bad-guy" sites also found protection from prosecution.As it stands now,this suit doesn't seem likely to end the way we want it to, unless it first deals with the "section 230" issue.

  4. John Doe · 550 days ago

    Hello,

    The only thing the women can expect is a share of the profits. After all, they are the models in the photos, so they should be paid some money, just like when a girl poses for Playboy.

    They and their lawyers certainly cannot take down truthful information, because truth is absolute defence in anglo-saxon law. (The photos on the website are not doctored, they truthfully depict those women in nude state.)

    The women should rather sue their ex-boyfriends for causing emotional distress and leave ISPs and websites alone.

  5. Nels · 550 days ago

    Apparently our laws regarding website owners' liability for user posted content need to be tweaked.

    Meanwhile, how about the lawyer for the victims demands the names - or at least the best ID info available to the website, of revenge posters be handed over to the lawyer for distribution to his clients who want to have those folks charged with invasion of privacy and/or sue them for whatever tort is appropriate?

    Going after the people who posted those pics as criminals probably won't generate enough $$$ to pay a lawyer, but having their identities listed on a "these people did this" website might be a halfway decent deterrent, and any individual who was harmed can decide for her (or him)self whether to file charges and/or sue for damages.

  6. AsadAhmad · 549 days ago

    Really dislike the idea of hosting companies regulating the content being distributed using their services. I'd rather not have my picture taken with my pants down then to have it online and cry about it. These metal injuries are self inflicted and one should find ways to come in terms with them rather then pointing the figure on someone else.

  7. Mick A · 547 days ago

    @John Doe; or should I call you Bob Parsons? I actually think you're right - the people taking the pictures and sending them to the Internet should be sued.

  8. Howard · 547 days ago

    We all know it is wrong. The men who uploaded this trash should be prosecuted as well. Hunter Moore should be in jail.

  9. Robert Logan · 542 days ago

    Using her cell phone my daughter sent naked pictures of herself to her boyfriend. She's one heartbreak away from being infamous. All she has to do is hurt her boyfriend, break it off, and wait... My daughter should know better, so should every woman now whining on TV. My daughter was stupid. You fill in the blanks...

  10. allinall · 340 days ago

    We all wish we could point the finger at someone else for our own mistakes but we dont. Apparently these girls have taken on this washed up lawyer as some kind of sugar daddy to fight their battles and make them famous. The message is to teach your kids to do bad things and they will end up on tv. Ridiculous!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.