In a somewhat bizarre turn of events, a group of individuals on Reddit who make a habit of photographing women without their consent are now lashing out after having their own privacy threatened.
The sub-Reddit /r/CreepShots was banned from Reddit earlier this week, sparking an online debate about what should and shouldn't be considered private information. The story has evolved quickly over the course of the week, but it does pose some interesting questions about who should know what about whom online.
CreepShots: Publishing photos of women anonymously online
The 'CreepShots' sub-Reddit was devoted to posting pictures of women online, taken without the consent of the photos' subjects. Many of the photos were of women in the Toronto area, supposedly taken by a Toronto man who moderates the CreepShots forum on Reddit and goes by the online alias CreeperComforts.
According to the Toronto Sun, a Toronto woman posted a warning to others in the area on another sub-Reddit,/ r/Toronto, about this individual taking candid photos of women without their knowledge.
The user CreeperComforts has since removed the 'creepshots' posts linked with his profile.
In a sample past entry, the Sun reports, CreeperComforts included the following comment about a woman bent over in a park: "See, this is an example of an upskirt that is perfectly legal to post because the goods are plainly visible to the general public. Circumstances like this are rare, cherish them!"
What is most concerning for women is that what CreeperComforts and other members of the /r/CreepShots sub-Reddit are doing is indeed legal. Police say it is legal to take photos of people in public, but as The Globe and Mail points out, if you ask a website to remove a photo posted of you, they'll generally comply.
Predditors: Publishing publicly available information about strangers
By the time of writing, the CreepShots sub-Reddit had been banned from the website (as has the replacement sub-Reddit that appeared, /r/CreepSquad), but that hasn't stopped the drama that surrounds this issue. This story took a turn when a Tumblr popped up called Predditors, aiming to make public the names and personal information (including Facebook pages, location, marital status and occupation, Huffington Post reports) of those who had been posting to the CreepShots sub-Reddit. It was briefly taken down but as Jezebel reports, Tumblr reinstated the blog as it was deemed not to violate any terms of service. This was the statement issued by Tumblr:
"This blog was mistakenly suspended under the impression that it was revealing private, rather than publicly-available, information. We are restoring the blog."
There were claims yesterday that a member of /r/CreepShots had been assaulted and beaten up, but the story has not been verified by any outside sources and the story is largely believed to be fictitious.
Between the original CreepShots sub-Reddit and the Predditors Tumblr, the moral question looms large as to what information about others is deemed appropriate to post online, even if it is in the public domain. Both CreepShots and Predditors contextualized publicly available material in a way that could potentially put the well-being of those involved at risk.
Gawker vs Reddit: When personal information leaks go too far
While it remains unclear what the future of this Tumblr will be, Reddit has taken a stand against Gawker on the limits of online privacy, a final twist to this story. Gawker journalist Adrian Chen began investigating Redditor Violentacrez, who set up sub-forums covering topics like bestiality, rape fantasy, under-age porn and upskirt photos, The Guardian reports. Violentacrez recently joined the CreepShots sub-Reddit as a moderator, too.
News broke that Chen was going to publish a post of revealing information about Violentacrez, and multiple sub-Reddits swiftly reacted by banning all Gawker Media links, which includes posts from Gawker, Jezebel, Kotaku, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, and more websites under the brand, from the popular sub-Reddit /r/politics, BetaBeat reports.
The ban has been put in place by Reddit moderators, not by administrators or officials of the site.