MaleGeneral is an online forum which invites users to post photos identifying any male they know (on or offline), with the purpose of asking other users to share explicit images and/or videos of the male in question.
This can come in the sort of dick-pics which were first shared in a private setting, or even wetransfer links to downloadable videos. Just think Is Anyone Up? (the user-generated, now-defunct revenge porn site from 2012), but for men who like men.
While a great deal of content shared here often involves material made by guys who are willingly selling porn through other sites (like subscription site OnlyFans), many are just regular people finding themselves victims of revenge porn, sexual exploitation and explicit material shared with malicious intent.
The site is made up of multiple threads where users can request or hunt for specific nudes, many have personal information attached and detailed, like their Instagram, Facebook or Twitter accounts or full names.
Some have modest followings on social media platforms, others are regular people who individual users wish to obtain naked images of. A link-out page details some of the removal requests by people affected, referring to anyone who goes directly to the internet service provider as “turds”. The page accepts donations in Bitcoin and Litecoin.
Jack, whose name has been changed for confidentiality purposes, is one of the many men who’ve had such material shared on MaleGeneral without his permission. Having previously swapped nude photos as part of an intimate, one-on-one experience on Grindr, Jack was horrified to learn these had later been distributed to millions of users on MaleGeneral. A thread was posted asking for his nudes to be brought to light, and the original recipient from Grindr anonymously distributed them, all completely against his will.
“Last year, I received a DM on Twitter from someone I didn’t know,” he said. “It said something along the lines of ‘Hey, have you seen these photos of you naked on this website?’ and it included a link. I thought it was just some fake junk mail circulating but for some reason, I clicked on it and there it was. I just closed it down as fast as I could, and when I got home I looked into it more and I figured out how horrific that website is. I kept quiet because I didn’t exactly want people seeing that of me…”
It looks images shared during a brief sexual meeting between two consenting adults on Grindr were now being used against him. Having simply taken part in what is now a very common aspect of 21st-century sexuality and relationships, Jack found himself victim to sexual abuse, exploitation and humiliation on MaleGeneral.
“When reading the terms of how to get the post removed from their website,” Jack continued, “I saw that you have to send (the people running MaleGeneral) a picture of yourself holding a sign with your details, and if you don’t do it ‘correctly’ they publicly post the photo on the site to shame you”.
“I was disgusted… and of course, I didn’t want to do that so I kept quiet about it, thinking no one knew the website existed. I was never ashamed because I knew a lot of people to send photos like that, it was just unfortunate it was me that all this happened to.”
When asked about the risks of social media and the internet, Jack said of how MaleGeneral was even harming children.
“It can be a dangerous place,” he said. “I actually saw a post of a guy who was under the age of 18. I didn’t know who it was a comment was posted anonymously which said ‘Delete this quick, he isn’t of age’, so that alone shows teens are also involved”.
“On social media, it’s easy to lie about your age. Teens can just type whatever they like into a box and are taking a risk by sending stuff like that, for it to end up on a website they have no clue about. So I do think there needs to be some form of education to a degree, just so young people know how out of hand this can become.”
“It is possible that posting these images may be a criminal offence under the so-called ‘Revenge Porn’ law, but that would require intent to cause the victim distress, which is difficult to prove,” Alex Haydock, a legal assistant at Open Rights Group explains. “Laws around harassment and copyright may apply in some circumstances, but this still leaves some room for people to share explicit images without permission.” he concluded.
Any law covering this area is dense and complex, and the onus seems unfortunately left on victims of the revenge porn forum to pursue changes to protect their privacy.
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