The Advance-Titan

Anti-revenge porn activist visits UWO

Charlotte Laws spoke about her fight against revenge pornography when one of her daughter’s private pictures, along with personal information, were hacked from her computer and uploaded to Hunter Moore’s revenge porn website, isanyoneup.com. Revenge porn is sexually explicit media that is publically shared online without the consent of the depicted individual, and it is used to humiliate or ruin the life of the target. However, the picture isn’t always a nude photo taken from the victim. Sometimes revenge porn perpetrators will Photoshop a victim’s head onto a porn star’s body and upload the new photo. Laws said the ultimate goal of a revenge porn site is to drive the victim to suicide. Revenge porn isn’t about the nudity—it’s about public humiliation. According to an interview Moore did with the Village Voice, he doesn’t necessarily care if people are emotionally hurt by the website because the page views he would get will bring him revenue. “If somebody killed themselves over that, do you know how much money I’d make?” Moore said in the interview. “At the end of the day, I do not want anybody to hurt themselves. But if they do? Thank you for the money.” Geneva Murray, director of the Women’s Center, said she had heard about Moore back in 2012 and was disgusted with the idea of someone using a nude photo without the person in the picture’s consent. “When I read about Charlotte Laws, I was excited to see someone so determined to stop revenge porn, and in particular, someone who had the educational resources and knowledge to know how to fight revenge porn websites,” Murray said. As the event’s title suggests, Laws is considered to be the Erin Brockovich of revenge porn. Laws explained in January 2012, a friend contacted her daughter Kayla at work to tell her that a picture had been uploaded to Moore’s site. When Laws contacted authorities, they told her it was her daughter’s fault for having the pictures in the first place. From there, Laws began investigating the revenge porn site. Because Moore included contact and job information of the victims, Laws was able to reach out to a few people who had photos on the site. One woman, a schoolteacher whose photo had been taken and Photoshopped, didn’t know her picture was up until Laws contacted the school she worked at. “[The news of the photo] had circulated the school and somehow everybody knew but her,” Laws said. “I don’t really know why they wouldn’t tell her. I do know I was the first one to tell probably 50 percent of the victims.” The difference between revenge porn and typical porn sites is the lack of consent, and Laws said because people had never heard of revenge porn, they didn’t know what to think of it. “When I started, I talked to a bunch of attorneys and they didn’t know anything,” Laws said. “I just kind of started compiling information and tried to become the go-to person to help people to sort it out and get their pictures removed.” Laws eventually contacted the FBI and after some persuasion, they agreed to help. Laws said unless they participated in other illegal activities, the owners of these sites were rarely blamed. She also mentioned another revenge porn site owner, Kevin Bollaert. “[Bollaert] was extorting people and that’s how he got nabbed,” Laws said. “It had nothing to do with his revenge porn activities. It had to do with extortion. Hunter Moore was identity theft, hacking and conspiracy.” According to NBC San Diego, Bollaert was recently sentenced to 18 years in prison. “When I started, nobody had [a law against revenge porn] except New Jersey, so it was perfectly legal,” Laws said. “Now it’s illegal in 17 states.” Laws said there are a few states close to passing a law, and Wisconsin law can charge revenge porn site owners with a misdemeanor. Oshkosh student Iuscely Flores said she knew people uploaded nude pictures of others as harassment, but didn’t know there were websites that hosted large amounts of these photos. Another student, Ellie Erd, said she also knew about revenge porn but didn’t know it was happening on such a wide scale. “It just struck me that she had to fight so hard, and it took her three to four years just to get one picture off,” Erd said. Laws said the best thing a revenge porn victim can do is build up a positive online presence. “Join whatever sites you can,” Laws said. “For example, my daughter’s in real estate now. That’s her new profession. So there are lots of real estate sites you can join and put your profile up for free.” Laws said the more information one has on themselves, whether it’s a job profile or a Facebook or LinkedIn account, the more these things push down the nude images when their name is searched. Some other things for people to do are to save all of their pictures, get photos copyrighted and put a Google alert on your name. With a copyright, it will be easier to get one’s picture off of a website, but without a copyright it is important to save any stolen nude photos because proof is needed that the picture came from your personal computer. Murray said because we live in a society that believes sexual violence is often a woman’s fault, she understands why so many authority figures and people believe the victims are to blame for their photos being uploaded. “If my bank information is hacked and put online, it isn’t my fault for having bank information—it’s the fault of the people who are doing the hacking,” Murray said. “Even if the photo is put online without the perpetrators hacking an account, the photo is still being put online without the person’s consent. Consent is an important part of sharing nude photos, and healthy relationships.” Murray said students who are experiencing any type of sexual violence or harassment are strongly advised to contact the Women’s Center, counselors or the Dean of Students office. Students can attend the Stand Up Titans! Bystander Intervention workshops to learn about sexual violence. Visit the Women’s Center website for dates, times and locations.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Anti-revenge porn activist visits UWO