The number of followers who had joined "Is Anyone Up"* might not have been in the hundreds of millions like some of the more popular social networks, but it sure was capitalizing on the profiles that were registered on Facebook and Twitter, nonetheless. Entrepreneur Hunter Moore had taken Chatroulette to a whole 'nother level to what some were defining as "revenge" or "identity" porn.
*UPDATE: Apparently since this post was written, due to all the critical backlash, Mr. Moore sold "Is Anyone Up" to Bullyville, a site dedicated to help people who are being bullied to assist in solving their problems through cooperation and thoughtfulness, rather than abuse.
So the rest of this post relates to the history of "Is Anyone Up," and you can draw your own conclusions, as to whether or not it was a good move on Moore's part to close that chapter of his life and the lives of all those who were harmfully affected by his short-lived social networking experiment. Hopefully this post had something to do with its demise.
The site allowed pornographic images to be exposed by vengeful exes and would-be porn stars seeking their 15 minutes of fame /shame. Kashmir Hill notes in her Forbes' expose on the topic that "Hunter Moore has created an apparently thriving business from posting amateurs' nude photos alongside screenshots of their Facebook or Twitter profiles," believing that many of the more deviant digerati will do anything to attract more followers on these networks.
Sort of like Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vadar, Hill sees Moore as "Mark Zuckerberg's dark alter-ego: both twenty-somethings (who) have figured out how to capitalize on social networking (via) people exposing themselves online and photo sharing."
Profiting from sleaze was brought front and center by Anderson Cooper on CNN last November, 2011, when Moore was hardly a blip on anybody's radar. With no excuses except to justify his "name and shame" game as a way to "educate folks on technology," Hunter was unabashedly unapologetic.
Hunter MooreIn The Village Voice's review titled, "Hunter Moore Makes A Living Screwing You," Camille Dodero noted that Moore makes a veiled attempt to cleanse his bad-boy approach to social media, by declaring that not only does he follow the law (he will not post photos of under-aged girls), but he also he takes Mark Zuckerberg's lead "that the greatest online power is the people you know."
This is the dark side of real-time transparency where according to Moore, people will do most anything for "the extra couple of followers on Twitter."
And while Moore isn't banking anywhere's near Zuckeberg's monetization numbers, his site is a sad commentary that goes beyond people's interest in porn (as that activity will continue and flourish online for years to come.) What's more disturbing is the humiliation, harassment and embarrassment of those whose images were posted by folks that shouldn't have been trusted. While some people volunteer to bare all, the foolish mistakes of others are exposed as well.
Hill aptly explains it this way: "Part of the appeal, with the shots of those there unwillingly at least, is the privacy violation: the fact that you are gazing at a photo meant for someone else, intruding on an intimate moment not meant for you. And the appeal with all of the photos is that a person’s identity is exposed along with their body parts."
Moore's site is presently protected under a law with the ironic name of the 'Communications Decency Act' -- which protects publishers from the content that others they serve can post. For example, Facebook can't be sued for anything its members post on a fellow users's walls or in comments. Similarly, since IsAnyoneUP.com is a forum where folks can post photos and information provided by its users, Moore can seek protection under this umbrella legislation.
Since the social media space is less than a decade old, Hunter Moore may continue to flourish for some time yet. While Facebook and others were responsible for opening up the online portal to people's private lives, a lot more attention will need to be paid at this intersection of social media, privacy, technology and the law - less the work of jaded entrepreneurs like Moore are allowed the time and latitude to influence others into moving over to the dark side.
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