Netflix’s latest true crime documentary The Most Hated Man on the Internet explores how Hunter Moore and Charles Evans hacked into people’s accounts to obtain intimate images – before proceeding to upload them and other personal details to the now-infamous “Is Anyone Up?” sites.
As well as showcasing private photos, social media handles and the home addresses of his victims, Moore also encouraged his followers, referred to as The Family, to leave degrading and harmful comments about the subjects in the forum below. They would also submit their own revenge porn to the site, which Moore would then publish.
Despite repeatedly being asked to remove the photos, Moore continued to exploit people in their most vulnerable state and profit from it. Not only did his victims have their privacy and security compromised by his vile site, many suffered with their mental health. One of the interviewees on the documentary, Cara, details how she made an attempt on her life as a result of the violation.
Indeed, there are many brave men and women who feature in the three-part docuseries, who discuss their experiences with Moore and his rabid army of cyber bullies. But it is Charlotte Laws, the mother of one of the victims Kayla, who fought tirelessly not just for her own daughter, but for many other women (and men) attacked on the site.
In fact, even after Kayla’s stepfather (who is a legal professional) managed to get her images removed from the site, her mother Charlotte continued on her quest for justice. Having reached out to various other victims, Charlotte was the one to gather crucial information about the hacking to help the FBI’s investigation – which, given that revenge porn isn’t recognized as a crime by US federal law, was essential in taking Moore down.
Now, there are many lessons to be learned from The Most Hated Man on the Internet. It marks a dark, sinister era in internet history which is far from over. We see the effects of revenge porn in its rawest state; incessant victim blaming, the permanence of our digital footprints and what can only be described as pure hatred for women. It is an incredibly hard watch.
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But it’s also a reminder that there is such a thing as human decency. Charlotte could have easily given up the ghost as soon as her daughter’s images were taken down from the site. She could have easily turned a blind eye to the other women she’d spoken to. But she didn’t.
In the words of Albert Einstein: “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
We all need to be a bit more Charlotte Laws. We all need to speak up when we see wrongdoing of any kind. We all need to make sure we’re advocating for the underdog – especially when they aren’t in the position to fight back. It’s our moral duty not to stand by and allow evil to seep into the fabric of our society.
Without people like Charlotte Laws, the world would be a truly bleak place.
If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email email@example.com visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are in another country, you can go there www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.