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Victims of 'revenge pr0n' sue GoDaddy, smut site

Reader poll said we should, er, stay up, claims web filth den

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Seventeen female victims of a "revenge porn" website have banded together to sue an online outfit that published their names and compromising pictures of them without permission.

The class-action lawsuit against TeXXXan.com and its hosting provider GoDaddy describes the revenge-porn site as a "blight upon society" and a "sick, cowardly enterprise" that serves "no useful, social or economic purpose".

The women complained they were left feeling humiliated by material published by TeXXXan, whose content is almost invariably submitted by angry or spurned partners. Images can be submitted anonymously and are often accompanied by stinging comments along the lines of "she's a whore even though her daddy's a preacher" and similar slights.

Most of the site's images seem are typically topless or lingerie shots, and restricted to women from named regions of Texas. There's no sign of lovers submitting pictures of their boyfriends.

But female nudes and more explicit images do feature. Subscribers are invited to vote on each photo, presumably on the attractiveness of the women depicted.

The 17 women who signed up to the class-action lawsuit are seeking damages for invasion of privacy under Texan state law.

The suit, filed by John S Morgan, a lawyer in the southern state, also criticises subscribers to the site and holds out the possibility of roping them in as defendants. Morgan initially acted on behalf of Hollie Toups, a Beaumont, Texas, woman who discovered an indecent pictures of herself on the site. Other women depicted on the site have since joined up to the legal offensive.

"I'm going after the revenge porn industry," Morgan told local paper the Houston Chronicle. "Those sickos who post private information of women without their knowledge."

TeXXXan isn't the only site in the revenge porn game. There have been other such sites, most notably Hunter Moore's infamous IsAnyoneUp.com, which Moore eventually sold to an anti-bullying charity before contemplating a comeback. Section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act, which states that websites avoid liability for user-submitted content, is the main factor which has so far allowed such websites at least a degree of legal protection.

Lisa Vaas, writing on Sophos' Naked Security blog, noted that TeXXXan had restricted access to its content to subscribers, possibly as a response to the lawsuit. But this proved temporary. The site relaunched with material available to all and sundry after running a poll on its own site.

A disclaimer on TeXXXan explains its rationale:

TEXXXAN is only a platform for the viewers, users and members that visit the site to do as they wish. Those who find this website unacceptable must understand that if TEXXXAN did not exist their [sic] would most certainly be something else in its place.

No one has ever been forced to visit TEXXXAN.

On a side note the morality of this website has been discussed, reviewed and contemplated leading administrators to pass the decision on to the public due to the fact that this website is populated with content submitted only by viewers of the site.

After running a poll asking the public if this site should be relaunched or shut down completely, the following results shown below where [sic] obtained clearly displaying that most of the population would rather the site continue on as it has in the past.

This disclaimer goes on to cite Section 230 of the aforementioned decency Act, while noting that the website's administrators reserve the "right to exclude, remove or edit certain information in submissions and comments that we find questionable or that may involve the innocent (such as children etc)". ®

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