It survived attacks from Anderson Cooper and Facebook, but the infamous revenge porn site Is Anyone Up was shut down today after Hunter Moore, the site's 30-year-old proprietor, sold it to an anti-bullying website. Moore told us in an interview that he got burnt out on ruining young women's lives. Now, he says, he just wants to help people. We definitely did not see this coming.
Until today, Is Anyone Up was a place for internet degenerates to anonymously submit nude pics of people they wanted to publicly humiliate. Moore would post their photos, along with a screenshot of their Facebook profile and some choice commentary. This caused untold distress to the exposed, but Moore reveled in being a dick, boasting just last week in the Village Voice about all the money he'd make if someone killed themselves because of his site.
"The problem of IsAnyoneUp.com is now solved," wrote Bullyville founder James McGibney in a statement. "In its place, BullyVille.com will exist to help people who are being bullied solve their problems through cooperation and thoughtfulness, rather than abuse."
In a phone interview today, Moore told us that he was burnt out after a year and a half of keeping his digital sewer pipe flowing just this side of the law. Especially tiring: having to screen the rising flood of user-submitted content, which had become increasingly disturbing as his site's fame grew thanks to an appearance on Anderson Cooper's daytime talk show and scores of media profiles.
"I'm just done with looking at little kids naked all day," Moore said. "I'd get at least 50 or 60 underage kids a day. It wasn't just 17-year-old girls. It was 12-year-olds and 9-year-olds. It definitely got old looking at that stuff every day." Moore said he notified the authorities about every kiddie porn submission, and that keeping up with the many investigations related to his site had become a drag.
Not that Moore vociferously chased minors away from his site: "Oh, I love that shit," he told the Voice, when reporter Camille Dodero asked about underage kids who said they aspired to appear on Is Anyone Up when they were of legal age.
According to Moore, the submissions took a macabre turn as his site became more popular. There was the time someone submitted a nude photo of a girl who had recently committed suicide. Moore, unaware she was dead, dutifully posted the picture on his site. It was up for 12 hours before he got an email from the victim's lawyer and took it down.
"I'm a human being," Moore said. "It just got to be too much."
Moore said the plan to turn over the site to Bullyville has been in the works for months—and it's not, as one might expect, the result of any pending legal action. It's a strangely good fit: Bullyville, which launched last week with an endorsement from respected bullying expert and Guns N' Roses guitarist Dj Ashba, is the newest project from the founder of Cheaterville, a website for spurned lovers to anonymously name and shame alleged adulterers. Cheaterville a PG-rated version of Is Anyone Up, basically. CheaterVille founder James McGibney said he first learned of Is Anyone Up because both he and Moore had appeared on Anderson Cooper's daytime talk show to be grilled about their websites.
The shut down and the "open letter" from Hunter Moore atoning for his ways is a brilliant publicity stunt by Bullyville, which excels at this sort of thing. McGibney has spent the afternoon taking a victory lap for shutting down Is Anyone Up.
"I'm getting a massive blast of positive response," McGibney told us over the phone. "5,000 emails from mothers and daughters that are really happy the site is down."
Moore thinks this could be the beginning of his own rehabilitation: "My main goal is to turn around the idea of Hunter Moore," he said." This explains Moore's choice to start writing for Bullyville, though taking anti-bullying advice from him is about on par with taking parenting advice from Dina Lohan. Moore explained that, while he has no regrets about making life miserable for adults, he sympathizes with bullied kids as he was pushed around as a kid, too.
"If there's a 12 year-old kid being beaten up, I feel like I can help kids like that because I've been on both sides of the fence," Moore said. His anti-bullying moment, we imagine, will last exactly one week. He's also organizing parties to benefit charity.
(Neither McGibney nor Moore would comment on the amount paid for Is Anyone Up's domain. "It's not nearly as much as people think," McGibney said. Moore told the The Awl he made $13,000 a month with Is Anyone Up.)
Regardless of the motives, this is a good day for the Is Anyone Up's countless subjects. Moore say's he'll cooperate with pending investigations, but he said he'll never make another website like Is Anyone Up.
"Anybody that was ever posted, where it's been ruining your life or your job, everything is completely wiped," he said today. "You're good."
[Illustration by Jim Cooke]