Despite Takedown Notice, Reddit's Creepiest Community Is Still Sharing Your Nudes

R/photobucketplunder has "gone dark." After a Gawker article about the Reddit subsection's practice of finding and sharing inadvertently-published, sexually explicit photos on Photobucket, the image-hosting site served a takedown notice: "It has come to PBI's attention that you are violating PBI's Terms of Use... Moreover, the name and graphics used for your subreddit infringe PBI's registered trademarks." The r/photobucketplunder mods posted a final message: "Gone dark. Due to a legal request from photobucket, we have gone dark. It was a good run."

It's not quite over yet, though.

R/photobucketplunder may have gone dark, but a new subreddit made up of the same core community has already sprung up, using the name r/photoplunder in an effort to scrub all references to Photobucket from the site.

Even with a new name, it's business as usual. The community already has 1,800 subscribers and a full page of links. Many of the community members, apparently collectors, have generously republished dozens of albums of photos taken from the previous subreddit — republished on Imgur, of course, in case the women get wise to the fact that a couple thousand Redditors have access to their nudes and remove them from Photobucket. As with r/photobucketplunder, the emphasis is on secrecy ("Do not follow the usernames of the girls submitted to this subreddit," reads one of the rules. "When you follow them it sends an e-mail to them notifying them they're being followed") and the tone is one of general disregard. The website title of both subreddits is "They should know better."

The name change would seem to satisfy the copyright component of Photobucket's complaint, and remove the company's main line of attack; the other part of the takedown — the accusations of a terms of use violation — is little bit more complicated.

In the notice, the company accuses r/photobucketplunder of "fuskering," or "fusking," the act of using a piece of software to search through a private Photobucket album based on the likelihood that the photographs follow one of a few common naming systems. Fusking was and is prohibited on r/photobucketplunder and r/photoplunder, and moderator mechesh claims to have never fusked — the photos featured on the subreddit are supposed to have been found in public albums.

But PhotobucketCEO Tom Munro told Betabeat earlier this week that 50 private accounts had been "violated," which apparently indicates that some images posted to Reddit had been fusked. And even if it's able to eliminate fusk-sourced photos entirely the subreddit still may be violating Photobucket's terms of use by "collecting usernames" and "accessing... photo album... in a manner that makes the images available without the surrounding site banners and information."

In an email, Photobucket's David Toner told me that the company is "currently working with federal authorities to determine if a federal crime has been committed in the unauthorized access and subsequent posting of photos from private accounts," and couldn't comment specifically on the subreddits. He did point out that the site itself has tried to educate users about fusking, and has made several changes since Gawker and Buzzfeed articles about "fusking" early this week — as Betabeat writes, Photobucket is now "automatically scrambling URLs for new albums, unless users request otherwise, posting an interstitial when users log in suggesting that they scramble the URLs on older albums."

These changes would help prevent fusking, which relies on a structured URL system that's easy for software to track and discover. But they're unlikely to help users who mistakenly make their private photos public, whether due to absentminded error or simple unfamiliarity with Photobucket or privacy protocols. The only way to solve that problem is through education — not just for the people who are unfamiliar with the complicated and frequently-changing possibilities and dangers of online privacy and photo-sharing, but also for the people whose first reaction on coming across clearly private photos isn't to alert the subject, but to save, republish and share them with Reddit.

Previously: Ladies: 8,000 Creeps on Reddit Are Sharing the Nude Photos You Posted to Photobucket