The former proprietor of one of the most notorious revenge porn sites on the web, Is Anybody Down, has been hit with an FTC judgment ordering him to destroy the site's archive of nude photos and barring him from putting them back online. Craig Brittain responded with a blog post apologizing for his past actions, then going on to deny or excuse most of them. Now he says he's turned his life around by joining GamerGate ("not a hate group") to fight the Mainstream Media, which he feels is just as bad and unethical as revenge porn.

Is Anybody Down was online during 2012 and 2013, springing up in the wake of the original revenge porn site, Hunter Moore's Is Anyone Up?, which popularized the model of soliciting private nude photos from jilted exes. Is Anybody Down mostly sourced its nudes from public Craigslist posts—Brittain denies the FTC's allegation that he used Craigslist to solicit photos himself, and claims "only about 50 posts in the history of the website were 'Revenge Porn' (an ex submitting private photos for the purpose of revenge)."

That's a pretty specific definition of "revenge porn," which in Brittain's mind doesn't include "self-taken pictures which were already publicly posted to other websites like Tumblr, Craigslist, etc. by the people pictured within it, which was then reposted/reblogged with additional information which had already been made public (like social media profiles, which are public info)."

About that "additional information": Brittain explicitly denies anyone ever posted a victim's address to his site. That may be true, but the FTC never claimed anything about full addresses. The complaint says Is Anybody Down posted information like "full name, town and state, phone number and Facebook profile." A quick look at an archive of the site shows a number of posts tagged with cell numbers.

The weirdest part of the Is Anybody Down saga is that the site linked to a helpful service called Takedown Hammer, where a lawyer, David Blade, promised victims he could get their photos removed for a $250 fee. Blogger and lawyer Marc Randazza did a bit of research and concluded that David Blade didn't exist and that Brittain was collecting money to remove nudes from his own site.

Brittain—shocker!—denies this, too. He says he only ever redirected takedown requests to DMCA.com, where copyright owners can file infringement claims. "When you hear 'David Blade, Takedown Lawyer, Takedown Hammer, etc.' they're really talking about the dmca.com redirect. All of these things are the same thing – the legal responsibility of the host server owner (not me) and the third party service (I have no affiliation with either)."

His claim that Takedown Hammer was just a redirect to a DMCA claims site seems pretty sketchy, though. Here's the "Get me off this site!" page from an archived copy of Is Anybody Down:

That page links to TakedownHammer.com. Here's an archived copy of that site, which doesn't exactly look like DMCA.com:

The FTC doesn't buy his story, either. Their complaint against him "alleges that he used deception to acquire and post intimate images of women, then referred them to another website he controlled, where they were told they could have the pictures removed if they paid hundreds of dollars."

Anyway, Brittain's days of engaging in revenge porn and (allegedly) being a fake lawyer are over. Now he's all about fighting something that's just as terrible as posting people's nude photos and personal information without permission: The Mainstream Media™!

"I strongly believe that the Mainstream Media uses revenge and shame narratives to exploit people and ruin their lives – not unlike what 'Revenge Porn' does," he writes. And that's why he's joined the most respected media ethics movement of our time, GamerGate, which is definitely a real thing and not just an excuse to harass and demean women.

Here's what he has to say about that:

I closed the website down in 2013 because I was personally conflicted (moral concerns, and the fact that 99% of the time I hated running the thing) and I wanted to use my skills to do something which I consider to be productive and positive in society, and that is why I contributed to GamerGate. I want diversity and ethical media, NOT "Revenge Porn". I want to atone for my previous mistakes. I love women and everything they contribute to society.

Most of the negative press I'm receiving now is due to my affiliation with GamerGate and calls for media reform. It's only logical that a person calling for reform will likewise be subject to the same reforms. Please understand that this is the catalyst for dragging up an issue from 2+ years ago. GamerGate is not a hate group. GamerGate is a call for the immediate reform of mainstream media. GamerGate is supported by countless minorities and women. Instead of centering articles about me and the stupid, idiotic, senseless things I did years ago, why not center articles around all of the positive contributions they have made?

Actually, the catalyst for "dragging up" Brittain's revenge porn past is the FTC decision against him, issued this week; GamerGate may very well meet the definition of a hate group; and its "positive contributions" thus far include scaring women out of their homes, sending a SWAT team to what they thought was a GamerGate critic's address, and trying to remove feminists from Wikipedia.

But Brittain doesn't think any of that is worth talking about. Instead, he believes Mainstream Media should "apologize for publicly shaming GamerGate supporters" by reporting on them, which, again, is "not unlike ... Revenge Porn."

[h/t Engadget, Photo: Is Anybody Down? via Internet Archive]