by Susan Basko, Esq.
Most predatory websites take advantage of 47 U.S. Code § 230, which immunizes an ISP from tort liability for statements of its users. What the makers of this law obviously did not foresee was that predatory entrepreneurs would set up websites that invited and encouraged users to post horrific defamation of others, and also would shield the identities of those users. This glitch in the law does not apply to federal criminal law or to intellectual property laws, such as copyright or trademark. Therefore, the owners or admins of a predatory website might still be held criminally liable for running a site that contains child pornography, obscenity, cyberstalking, cyber harassment, doxing, and other illegal cyber stuff. Note: The people posting such materials can always be held responsible for tort or criminal liability, if (and it's a big if) they can be located.
47 U.S. Code § 230 was written in the early days of the internet, with the idea of ISPs and website owners being basically good people who might be set upon by wrongdoers posting inappropriate things on their sites. In fact, this loophole in the law was noted by the most malicious of the entrepreneurial predators, who created websites that earn a steady living in advertising revenue and "reverse extortion" payments by encouraging deranged members of the public to post horrifying defamation, invasions or privacy, pornography and obscenity, and other such attacks on innocent third parties. 47 U.S. Code § 230 was dubbed the Good Samaritan clause. Now it can rightly be called the Predators Loophole. There are many predatory websites. Below are a few examples.
EXAMPLES OF PREDATORY WEBSITES AND HOW THEY WORK:
Encyclopedia Dramatica: This is a predatory website run by people in their 40s and 50s who imagine themselves to be above the law. They lack in human decency and common respect. They are known to be racist and misogynistic. The owners of the site have it set up to draw in the most mentally deranged, deeply socially sick internet users that crop up with each new generation. Those sick people are encouraged to use the site to post pages about innocent victims, with the aim being to harm the victims' reputations, their businesses or job, and their families or relationships.
The Encyclopedia Dramatica owners, admins, and users victimize these innocent people with outlandish lies and defamation which is made to look real. The site does not contact the victims or fact check, and is simply a collection of the most injurious lies imaginable. Photos of the innocent people are photoshopped to created obscenity.
These defamation tactics are used against the victims to harm them in many ways, including coercing some into internet crime, punishing others for refusing to participate in internet crime, forcing the victims into doing things they would not otherwise do, silencing the victims about crimes they have witnessed, shaming, humiliating, destroying their reputations and businesses, and harming their families and relationships.
Encyclopedia Dramatica is the henchman, the enforcer used by many internet predators to coerce, force, harm, and damage those who might stand in their way. The site is like the gang members on the street corner, there to stomp on the rights of the law-abiding and those who just want to be left alone.
Encyclopedia Dramatica is a crime website of major proportions that masquerades as "parody," except that parody does not include obscenity, cyberstalking, defamation, invasions of privacy, and other crimes and torts. People known to be involved with Encyclopedia Dramatica include Brian Zaiger of Boston, Chris Jones, Jaime Cochran of Chicago, @Gwennyrah, and Tawnie Knight aka @Anoccam, of Arizona. I have been told by an ED admin that the site admins run a meth ring that they use to support their activities. The whole victimizing operation of Encyclopedia Dramatica seems criminal, and you can read about that HERE and read about 5 of its victims HERE.
Cheaterville: This website is owned by Via View, a Nevada LLC owned by James McGibney. Via View is also registered as a Delaware corporation. Cheaterville is what is known as a "revenge porn" site. The site encourages people in the public to get revenge, mostly against young women, by posting compromising photos of them and posting horrific sexual statements about them. The purpose, obviously, is to destroy the lives of these girls and women. Cheaterville works hand in hand with a company called Truth in Posting, or TIP, of Henderson, Nevada. The website's victims are supposed to pay hundreds of dollars to TIP to get the revenge porn removed. I have coined a term for this: "reverse extortion." Feel free to use that term: reverse extortion. At this time, McGibney and Cheaterville are engaged in filing lawsuits, restraining orders, and subpoenas against a hodgepodge of individuals who have objected online to the Via View revenge porn business. The Via View twitter handle is @Bullyville, which is apt, since bullying it does. You can read a legal analysis HERE.
RipOffReports: This site works just like Cheaterville, but instead of posting revenge porn, this site allows anyone to post any lies about any business or professional. It works on the same economic model as the revenge porn sites. After a posting is made, the victim is sent numerous reverse extortion letters, offering to lessen the harm for hundreds of dollars. A legal analysis is HERE.
Doxbin: Doxbin is the king of predatory websites. It is above ground and also on tor. Doxbin is used by the same psychos that post on Encyclopedia Dramatica, as well as by others. The site works by allowing anyone to post invasive information or materials on others, such as name, address, social security number, bank info, accounts, and on and on. The object is to make the victims vulnerable to crime, as well as to "aid and abet" the commission of such crimes as identity theft, robbery, rape, home invasion, and assassination. And - the whole thing is criminal, top to bottom. You can read about that in a legal analysis HERE , in a closer look HERE.