Whilst it very much feels like fiction, this post is entirely true. The subject’s identity will therefore remain a secret… Nevertheless, I must thank the subject for their commendable bravery throughout the entire ordeal, and thank them for allowing me to publish this. 

Once you have finished reading, please scroll back up here and sign this petition.  

Thank you, 



Week beginning: 19th May 2014

If you come to me with an issue, no matter how petty or pertinent, I will take you seriously. I will also keep your secrets where discretion is necessary. But most of all, I always try and fix it. Like Olivia Pope. Or Bob the Builder.

At the start of this week, I received a very much unexpected message. The text, which I have broken up for confidentiality purposes, read:


…This is a story about revenge porn.


The past few days have been extremely strange, if not dark; I have journeyed deeper into the digital underworld than I would ever wish upon anyone. I have read and researched and spoken to people about matters that would never even cross my mind before now, and have been driven to frustrated tears on more occasions than my cold heart usually grants me. I am truly sad about what I have seen, I am angry about why I have seen it, and I am going to fight to ensure that nobody has to see it again.


The facts of the “case” are neither surprising nor necessary for the comprehension of the issue at hand, and I will NEVER disclose the identity of the person that sent me that text unless “duty bound” to do so. But for the layperson, this is how revenge porn tends to work: girl sends boyfriend nude pictures. They split up, for whatever reason. He is pissed off, and wants “revenge”. He finds a filthy – and I mean filthy – website dedicated to such activities, and emails said nudes over to the website owners, along with a scary amount of details about his ex – I’m talking town of residence, full name, age, occupation, Facebook profile URL, the lot. Those seedy little website owners then publish ALL of that information in the public domain (which means anybody can look at it), without the ex-girlfriend knowing a damned thing about it. What’s even more repulsive is that these websites don’t even need their own domain names – there is a shocking amount of Tumblr pages that host revenge porn websites.

So let’s just recapitulate: we’ve got the ex-girlfriend, who did nothing out of the ordinary by sending nudes to her trusted lover (and if any of you try and tell me different, you’re either lying or have time-travelled here from 1577). We’ve got emotionally unstable ex-boyfriend. And we’ve got sociopathic and arguably sexually frustrated website owners.

But who, do we think, is the purported “bad guy” in all of this?

It is, of course, the ex-girlfriend. “Shouldn’t have got her tits out”, “Shouldn’t have left me”, “Silly slut didn’t think about this”, et cetera. Now the sad thing is that I know a lot of the readers of this blog will be thinking along those lines, and unfortunately there isn’t much I can do to make you empathise if you are one of those people. I can tell you true stories about poor girls that have hidden themselves from the world for years after becoming a victim of revenge porn, or even about those that end their lives because of the persistent bullying and the constant fear of more people finding the pictures and judging them. But the bottom line is that too many people are wholly unbothered. It’s a crime quite like no other.

To take things one step further, a lot of the websites and blogs also allow comments. They will make your skin crawl. Imagine reading this about your sister, or your friend, or your current girlfriend (I’m really, really sorry about these and I warn you they’re not nice):

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 12.58.05

Those are real comments on a real picture of a real person, who has no idea that such disturbing things are being said about them. This isn’t some joke on Twitter that the subject of can shrug off because it’s just words – the comments relate to an image or images of them that were quite clearly never meant for public viewing. Picture this happening to you, and picture some sick pervert sat behind the safety of a computer screen typing those words whilst gawping at your body. Not the nicest thought, is it?

Of course you’re adamant it wouldn’t happen to you, because there is no reason for the reasonable person (it happens to plenty of men as well as women) to predict such a gross invasion of privacy. How often do you Google your own name? And even then that rarely brings up such results, as they’re often embedded deep in the belly of the beast that is the Internet. Unless somebody – a Samaritan or an extortionist, but probably the latter as was the case with my “client” (we’ll call them “X”) – notifies you of the publishing of your naked body for thousands of revenge porn site users to comment on, gawp at and all the gruesome rest of it, you’d be completely unaware of it. Which is kind of weird, right? Because you’d think the whole point of your ex having got this “revenge” was to be able to rub it in your face, to frighten you or to potentially ruin your life. But they just kind of… Don’t. I hope that what happens is that they regret the deed pretty soon after it is done, and when they try and redeem themselves, find out they can’t for reasons I’ll get onto later.

So, that’s the background. Here’s what we did this week.


My initial response is always “Do not worry. I’ve got this” – before I had even read the text properly. And then I really read it, and thought: what the fuck am I going to do?

It’s important to underline that X did take or consent to the taking of the pictures. But the curious thing is that they’re actually several years old, and my client had and has no reason to believe that the original recipient would have any reason to exact “revenge” upon her. The time lapse is the most problematic part of this entire conundrum; in a nutshell, it means we have little to no idea who is currently in possession of the images to have been able to publish them.

The first notification of the situation we got was, as I mentioned earlier, from an opportune extortionist. This type of person prowls revenge porn websites looking for prey – it’s easy to get in contact with their choice of quarry when so much of the victim’s personal information is so carelessly listed. They then start off by acting as though they’re doing you a favour, which quickly turns to “I’m sure we can sort this out another way” – i.e., send me lots of money and I’ll do… Well, nothing. If you are ever a victim of revenge porn, do not negotiate with ANYBODY that emails you out of the blue. They are going to scare you, put you in a corner and rip you off big time.

As it happens, this obvious amateur quickly shit his proverbial pants as soon as he was threatened with legal action, and backed off. A quick search of his email address brought up his personal revenge porn Tumblr page, which was my first encounter with anything of the kind. Maybe it’s different for females because – you’ll excuse the stereotype – pornography isn’t something that features in our browser history (except mine is unfortunately now full of it). But I just did not need to see what I saw. I think the header read something along the lines of “Curvy Amateur Housewives” – well, some were curvy, some did not exactly look amateur and I didn’t see many saucepans or bottles of Cillit Bang. What our friendly blackmailer wanted to do was politely (no, really – he was so strangely courteous) ask if he could post the pictures he’d found on other revenge porn sites – to which he stupidly sent us the links – on his Tumblr. Er… Not today mate.

The real problem at this stage was really, really worrying us: the links he’d provided did indeed bring up images of X, along with a frightening amount of their personal information. At this point the whole thing went from “There’s a potentially threatening weirdo in my Inbox” to “Those are my boobs. On. The. Internet” and then, “Help me. Please”.

I was so, so angry. The lump in my throat returns whilst I write this. And they weren’t even my boobs. The links were both Tumblr pages which, given the similar images on both, I suspect are owned by the same person/body of people. Thankfully, Tumblr allows you to report any copyright infringement in a fairly simple manner, so we had those sites taken down almost immediately. Was it over? Unfortunately, no. It’d actually just started.

The next stage of Morris’ll Fix It is, of course, Google. I had never heard of revenge porn before this week, so I think I searched for something along the lines of “remove naked pictures from Internet”. And therein began the tiresome journey…


Adam Steinbaugh is his name. I read about him here, in an article by an author I was already familiar with for having written a short book about Bitcoin. Steinbaugh is the Zorro of the revenge porn victim community. He spends his life doing what he can to legally annihilate revenge porn baddies, and then writing quite a lot about it. After reading a number of his articles, I emailed him with a summary of the situation but without any serious hopes of such a busy man getting back to me.

Adam got back to me. If I were a Christian child, I would pray in thanks for that at least. He offered to try and find the litigious extortionist, amongst other things. But he did also open up a serious can of worms. Because aside from offering us a lot of advice to put into action immediately, he also gave us some bad news – the images had been published on one of the largest revenge porn sites in the world. That website, which I won’t name for the time being at least, is a fucking fortress: once your picture is on there, you need a digital bazooka to get it off. It’s also one of the sites that allow the horrific comments. To put it into context, within five days of X’s pictures being up there, they had racked up in excess of a reported 35,000 views. That number still grosses me out…

Adam also told me that he had been building up a case against the owners of the site. This is some of what he knows about them so far (I quote):

The guy who runs it is an American who has recently fled to South Africa.  One of his partners (also American) is in California at the moment, but has a business in the U.K. and may be preparing to move there.

Whilst it was nice to know that there were activists making moves in other parts of the world, the information he gave me was evidently more than worrying.

After reading Adam’s blogs as well as some other articles proposing concrete legislative action against revenge porn in the UK, it seemed that the best way to try and get X’s images taken down from the third website was to send a letter conforming to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It’s American legislation, but as the site was being hosted in the US, we could at least give it a try. I wrote a letter and we emailed it to the site’s host.

But what is really, really annoying is the reason we had to go down that route in the first place: the website provides absolutely no method of reporting a post. Hence the need for the digital bazooka. From what I have read, it would seem that there used to be an option to send money – some $400 – to a company based in the Philippines. Once you did this the images were removed but, and here’s the hilarious part, there was no guarantee that they wouldn’t be put back up there. In other words, there is no foreseeable end to the nightmare, and not least because the website is only really the third party in all of this. The person really responsible is completely unidentifiable. As the situation currently stands, the site offers a sort of wild goose chase where you’re just clicking on link after link and being directed to nothing but a disclaimer dispensing the site owners of all liability, and no actual option to remove the images. Good stuff.

In any case, a DMCA letter it was. Sadly this option isn’t even guaranteed to work: one of the websites I looked at stated that it took seven weeks for the host to respond, and others said that the letter made no difference. The issue is that these revenge porn sites generate, as we have seen, a lot of traffic. As I’ll show you in another post, that traffic makes a lot of money. And all of that dirty money is being held by cyber Goliaths against whom the victims of revenge porn have little to no weapons.

I may not read the Bible, but I am more or less certain that David killed Goliath.