The case against Go Daddy that may help end Revenge Porn

Revenge Porn

Revenge Porn

Recently, I did an interview with Dame Magazine regarding a landmark revenge porn lawsuit against Go Daddy.  The complaint alleges that the website hosting provider was a complicit and willing partner in harassing and victimizing dozens of women online, including the young plaintiff named Holly Jacobs.

Go Daddy Revenge PornGo Daddy refused to remove nude images and personal identifying information about the women from its servers.  The images and information was posted without the victim’s consent on Texxxan.com, a “revenge porn” website hosted by Go Daddy dedicated to humiliating and emotionally blackmailing women.  The photos that were posted to Texxxan.com, without the victims’ permission, were generally uploaded by jaded ex-boyfriends and husbands with the sole intention of harassing, menacing and causing harm to the victim’s professional reputations.  Texxxan.com and other “revenge porn” sites would often then require a “fee”  from victims in order to remove the photos and personal information.   These sites also enjoyed a significant income stream from “click advertising”.

Sounds a lot like blackmail, exploitation and coercion, right?  Well it is.  Revenge porn is the new scourge of the internet.  Why isn’t Go Daddy required to remove these images immediately? Because of a loop hole in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996, which was written to protect interactive computer service providers, like You Tube, Yahoo and Facebook and others from the acts of 3rd party users who post content to their sites.  Unlike YouTube, Facebook and even Google, Go Daddy is generally unwilling to address activities on its servers that clearly victimize people, and violate federal and state laws.  Why doesn’t Go Daddy want to remove revenge porn and other criminal and defamatory materials from their servers?  From my perspective, its because the company doesn’t care about people.  Go Daddy is a privately corporation and part of a private equity portfolio that is only focused on maximizing profits for its shareholders, not with being responsible corporate citizens.  Much like an oil company that fouls the water and land with petroleum in an effort to make 200% more profit, Go Daddy is more interested in profiting from sites like Texxxan.com than doing the right thing.

Holly Jacobs

Holly Jacobs, brave survivor of Revenge Porn

Revenge porn is a form of criminal stalking, which is illegal in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories.   According to the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 1 in 4 stalking victims reported some form of cyberstalking such as e-mail (83%) or instant messaging (35%).  Nearly 3 in 4 stalking victims knew their offender in some capacity.  Moreover, women are at greater risk than men for stalking victimization. In 2012, the risk of stalking victimization was highest for individuals who were divorced or separated—34 per 1,000 individuals.

Cyber stalkerLet’s be clear, it is not only immoral, but illegal to post nude and intimate photos or video of individuals (generally women) without their permission, on websites and blogs dedicated to humiliating, harassing and drawing unwanted attention to the victims.  This is especially true when the images are accompanied by personal identifying information (name, address, employers, family details, etc) about the victims to ensure the target of this malicious act is clearly identified and maximum damage is done.  Victims with money and resources are forced to go to civil court and, at great expense, obtain court orders against web hosting companies like Go Daddy in order to compel them to remove the photos.  Some victims actually pay-off these sites (hosted by companies like Go Daddy)  in order to remove this images quickly and hopefully minimize the damage.  However, photos typically pop-up on other sites in the future as victims work to remove them, like a sick, online version of Whac-A-Mole.  This ongoing pattern of “pop-up revenge porn” keeps victims in a constant state of panic and uncertainty over their online reputation and personal safety.  It also becomes expensive when companies like Go Daddy unethically refuse to remove photos and defamatory materials.

Harassers use shame and fear of rejection by family and friends, and loss of job opportunities against victims.  They know that the world is full of “busy bodies” who would rather judge a victim for being shown nude on the internet, against her will, instead of focusing on the sick sociopath who posted the images. By refusing to remove illegal materials from its servers, Go Daddy has proven that it is just as complicit in stalking, harassment and defaming women, like Holly Jacobs, as any criminal off the street.  I really hope Holly wins.  She would be setting an important precedent that would benefit women and future generations to come.

Carla Franklin’s petition of Google: Cyber-harassment, internet and legislation

I,  Carla Franklin, have been the subject of recent media regarding my petition for information of Google, Inc, regarding an ongoing matter of harassment.  This unfortunate and unwanted media buzz occurred when the August 17, 2010 petition, known as an Order to Show Cause (not a lawsuit for money) was leaked to or shown to the press without my knowledge or consent.

Several news articles have been written about my case; most  were inaccurate, relied upon limited information in the court filing and took details out of context.

The truth about me is that I am management consultant, who has been gainfully employed as a full-time consultant since receiving my undergraduate degree.

I have been dealing with ongoing obsessive and harassing behavior since 2006.  Despite ignoring phone calls, e-mails, changing my number, trying to be nice, and hoping that the obsessive behavior would stop, the behavior continued over a four-year period. Last year, things escalated online.  An anonymous YouTube account was created to make a YouTube channel or “shrine” dedicated to me, using video clips of me talking to a friend.  The personal information that was included and the obsessive, “shrine-like” nature of this You-Tube channel scared me.  Several weeks after the YouTube “shrine” was removed, another anonymous YouTube account was created and used to comment on video clips of me created by Columbia Business School.  The comment left on the clips was “whore.”

I am asking Google, Inc. for information about the person who is harassing me online because I believe it is equally as dangerous as the harassment that has occurred in person, and if I pursue legal remedies I don’t want anonymous online activities to be excluded from this person’s damaging pattern of behavior.

In summary:

  • I am not seeking money from Google/YouTube. I am following the normal, required process to seek information. Because internet harassment laws are currently non-existent, I had to pursue a civil route to gather information on my harasser.  If these activities had happened through the mail, over the phone, or in person, I could have gone directly to law enforcement to remedy the issue.  Tougher internet legislation (like the Stalker Act of 2010) needs to be passed.
  • Google/YouTube and other internet product providers have invested limited time and resources into measures that allow individuals to protect themselves from  harassment and stalking.

My case is about a pattern of online and offline abuse and the right of an individual like myself to link these two elements in a legal case.  There are laws to protect us from harassment in person.  The internet should not become a place for anonymous harassers to hide.  For more detail on the mater, please see the link below.  It references the only interview that I’ve done on this matter. —> http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6797340n

Current criminal laws protecting citizens against cyber-harassment are scant or non-existent.  Those who find themselves at the mercy of “anonymous” trolls and online bullies generally have to use civil measures of “Defamation” or “Copyright Infringement” to get information from Google, Yahoo, and other online content providers in order to pursue criminal remediation against harassers.  Legislation must be passed to protect others from the same behavior that I, Erin Andrews, and most recently Tyler Clementi had to endure.  More unnecessary tragedy and suffering will occur until the laws catch-up with the crimes of the internet.