r/Creepshots is where non-consensual photos of women were posted; a variety of sexualised content under the auspice of free speech.
Predditors calls out the Reddit community; if one is free speech, the other must also be. I expect they were incensed; https://twitter.com/BabylonSista/status/257241524516044801 indicates they were.
There’s two sides of this, and neither is appealing.
It all started when Gawker unveiled the identity of Michael Brutsch as the Redditor “Violentacrez”1, the man behind the r/Creepshots subreddit, among others.
Reddit reacted badly to this, banning all links to Gawker. This was not done, by Reddit standards.
Name and Shame
r/Creepshots stood by the banner of free speech; that treating women as objects is acceptable.
Without showing them as predators, women remain vulnerable; a culture where stalking us is acceptable remains.
By Predditors existing, they shame the Reddit culture, shame the predators. The free speech argument that r/Creepshots used, turned and used against them.
An individual has lost his jobs as a result2; this is the power of removing the cloak of anonymity.
Google has been made toxic to everyone revealed, their lives and names tarnished.
Without recognising this as violation, women being treated as as things continues. A culture of misogyny continues.
This I approve of; these acts are a violation; r/Creepshots and Reddit as a whole know this; rail against it when the tables turn.
But their attitude is “She posted these photos, so they’re fair game.“3. A photograph does not violate; somehow. It is not personally identifying.
Photographs; the things police use to identify people4 are being posted, under the Reddit banner of “free speech”.
The women r/Creepshots have posted have been forced into the violated role. Today, they are masturbatory material, tomorrow those images will match in image recognition search.
Their name, linked to sexualised images they don’t control. Their Google results will be just as toxic.
A lack of associated data today does not mean there will be no data tomorrow. Far from it; the Internet thrives on establishing those connections.
Graph Theory Futurism
More terrifying are the privacy implications. r/Creepshots violated privacy, and others objected to that; those others violated privacy on the same terms, poisoned Google forever.
My terror is the ease by which unmasking occured and lives were ruined. Not that r/Creepshots were, or that the women they violated were, but that any person could be so revealed.
Any person, any race, creed or profession.
Hit lists already exist for abortion workers. Soon, a point and click website to make your own unmasked set of people will exist. Gay people, people of a religion you hate. Minorities who happen to have the job you want.
Anyone at all.
We’re seeing the beginnings of a world where any group may be targeted, mined and unveiled. Privacy is being shredded and humans, real vulnerable people, are damned by their data.
Vulnerable women who had photos taken of them on the street. Vulnerable women who had were manipulated into giving away sexualised images, like Amanda Todd5, harrassed to suicide as a result.
Women who just lost control of their images. Women whose crime was to walk, in public.
People on r/Creepshots whose crime was posting predatory photographs.
Tomorrow, those whose merely live, found through data relationships far beyond their control.
Network-driven vigilantism is already becoming normalised; in the future, how bad will it become?
It’s hard to condone this vigilante spirit; anyone may target anyone, and no one remains safe. I can’t support that future.
The Free Speech Defense
Central to the whole Reddit argument is “Free speech”, a concept supposedly enshrined in US law. As John Scalzi so eloquently pointed out6, free speech is the right to not have the government tell you what you can and cannot say.
Your right to be a creep on the Internet comes down to individual sites. You don’t get to call “free speech” arbitrarily; no government entity is silencing you. The owners of the infrastructure decide the privileges you enjoy.
Privileges; not rights. A guest in someone’s home, not repressed by a nationstate regime.
As a shield, it does not stand scrutiny. Faced with the hypocrisy of the Redditor response, it is at best laughable.
r/Creepshots, the initiator of all of this, showed us the power of social media, that we are not so safe as we think. Predditors turned the tables, showed the same vulnerablity of those who preyed on our vulnerability and openness.
I hope the predatory men of r/Creepshots will understand their misogyny, becoming better people. I hold little hope for this. I expect retaliation; reinforcement of beliefs that women “deserve” to have non-consensual privacy violations, but that the violators don’t. That by their rules, public means different things for men and women.
I hope that stronger controls on these privacy violations come about. Revealing photographs or names as a verboten act; an image-search future is already realisable. Weaponised Google already exists; the march of technology will continue to unmask, men and their prey.
There’s no integrity in violating privacy; no journalistic scoop. Misogyny and entitlement drives those pictures; revenge drives the unmasking, a zero-sum war.
Owning our own signal is no longer enough; when violations come without our knowledge or participation.
Without repair, this is a dark future.