A website that I hope you have never visited called isanyoneup.com was shut down last week. The premise of the site was to let disgruntled ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends post explicit photos their significant others sent them alongside a screenshot of their Facebook or Twitter account. After two years of public outcry and disgust and over 500 million pageviews later, founder Hunter Moore put an end to the site, now tens of thousands of dollars richer thanks to advertising, event appearances and merchandise sale.
You might be wondering why I'm telling you this. You might be wondering why knowing about Hunter Moore, possibly the slimiest of all slimy entrepeneurs, deserves any attention and anything other than our anger and judgement. Well, it's because maybe Moore wasn't so slimy afterall, and maybe, just maybe, our anger and disgust should be pointed at someone else -- ourselves.
Just to give you a sense of how ostracized Moore is, try sending a Facebook chat that includes the name isanyoneup.com in it. You can't. The message simply won't send, because Facebook hates Hunter Moore so much that they won't let him on their site or let you talk about him on their site. Moore also received a harsh critique from Anderson Cooper when he appeared on Anderson last November. Moore cites the backlash from that interview as part of why the site no longer exists. And then of course he's hated by the men and women whose photos are submitted, one of whom was so upset that she stabbed Hunter in the shoulder with a pen, landing him in the emergency room getting stiches.
Now, according to a letter he posted online on the last day of the site's existence, he is so "burnt out" and has received so much hatred that he can't continue with the site. It was thousands against one, and as wrong as that one may have been, his opponents didn't handle the battle right.
Isanyoneup.com was no doubt a grimy site, but the fact is, Hunter Moore is not to blame. Moore simply was a middle man. All the photos posted were submitted. Moore didn't hack into people's phones and emails, he didn't bribe people into submitting with anything of real value (each submitter got a t-shirt, but so what) and he didn't do anything illegal. In finding each submitted person's Facebook account, he ensured they were over 18. If a photo was submitted of someone under 18, he contacted the police to have the submitter prosecuted.
There really is not one specific person who is "to blame" for the site. It could be the submitters, whose anger towards their exes couldn't be satisfied with anything other than public humiliation. Or, it could be the people whose photos were posted, who forgot just how easy it is for a photo you thought was private to go public if the person you're sending it to can't be trusted.
Or, most likely, it's society's fault. It's our fault that we kept looking at the site, building the hit count and awareness, and encouraging Moore to keep going. It's our fault for making girls (and guys) want to submit photos of themselves simply because it would get a few people to tweet at them saying how hot they are and how much they love the pictures. And it's our fault for tearing Hunter Moore apart, day after day, instead of accepting that he was just the smart one in the situation, capitalizing off our faults.
It's hard not to feel sorry for the hundreds of people who were posted online, but couldn't it all have been avoided? Sexters, be careful who you send photos to. Receivers, there are better ways to get off some steam than humiliating your ex. And everyone else, stop looking.
It's telling that as angry as isanyoneup.com made people, when it stopped, we didn't. Isanyonedown.com, a site that is essentially an exact duplicate of isanyoneup minus the originality, is alive and kicking. We're still sending, we're still posting and we're still looking.
Luckily though, Hunter Moore seems to have moved on to bigger and better things. He is now working on two projects, one with bullyville.com to reduce school bullying, and other called wepartyforacause.com that aims to host parties and donate the proceeds to charity. He was called the villian this whole time, but really he was just a smart businessman who knew a thing or two about people's desires.