In September of this year, a 15 year old girl named Amanda Todd from British Columbia posted a video onto Youtube wherein she detailed a terribly fucked up story with Bob Dylan-esque cue cards, of how one internet pedophile had deliberately destroyed her happiness. You can get all of the painful details from the video, but basically she flashed a strange guy while she was in the seventh grade over webcam. That image got into the hands of a pedophile who tracked her through high school, then leaked the images to her friends and family, while continuing to stalk her online and heavily disrupt her life. Some of the Canadian mainstream media have described it as “bullying… through online social media” but clearly this pattern of controlling and destructive behavior is more than just a case of “no one likes you” wall posts and “you’re fat” instant messages.
In light of the recent exposure of Reddit’s most notorious jailbait administrating troll by Gawker, and the news of Hunter Moore’s disgusting little empire embarking on a new online endeavor, it seems like all eyes are uncomfortably on the jailbait exploitation community on the internet. While jailbait certainly has a more palatable ring to it than child porn, it has clearly become a very insidious force on the internet that is pitting overly clever pedophiles against insecure teenagers.
An individual that has started a New Jersey based branch of the hacktivist group Anonymous to find justice for Amanda Todd has, supposedly, uncovered the identity of the pedophile that tracked and blackmailed Amanda. In a document they leaked to the text file sharing service Pastebin, they allege that the pedophile’s name is Kody Maxson of New Westminister, British Columbia. To back up their claims, they linked to a Facebook picture that’s protected (so that’s no help) and quote from an account tied to Kody Maxson on a jailbait forum, where he posted images of nude teenagers and made it known he was blackmailing underage girls.
In what can best be described as extremely bad taste, Hunter Moore has thrown a handful of horrible tweets into the Amanda Todd discussion. Hunter, the creator of IsAnyoneUp, a now defunct website that allowed guys to post photos of their naked ex-girlfriends with public links to their Facebook profiles, is an online architect that has helped people like Kody Maxson reach girls like Amanda Todd.
After tweeting shit like “I wonder if Amanda Todd will be on walking dead tonight” and “Life’s a Bleach – Amanda Todd” which is a reference to Amanda’s first bleach drinking suicide attempt (it’s not clear if this is how she committed suicide on the 10th), he was met with the usual torrent of hatred and disgust that the man has grown accustomed to. In response to the backlash, Hunter tweeted: “i lost 200 followers from my amanda todd joke. then gained 250 from making fun of a girl for wanting me to take her buttonhole virginity. <3.”
While Amanda described being bullied by her classmates in the original Youtube video she posted, the pedophile that stalked her through high school is clearly reason her torment began and continued to worsen. While this story is receiving a lot of attention in the media, the Canadian press has so far failed to properly illuminate the role of popular jailbait image boards and the horribly destructive control that one lone creep, hiding behind his computer, had over Amanda’s life. Luckily, the RCMP has a 20-25 man task force working on this, as they told the National Post, so at least they seem to know what’s up.
Hopefully, the popularization of Hunter Moore and sites like IsAnyoneUp can be reconsidered after a tragedy like this, and that the catch-all of “online bullying” becomes examined under a more complicated lens. The vigilante justice of Anonymous is simply a band-aid on a very serious and quickly growing problem online that is putting vulnerable young girls like Amanda Todd in a very complicated and destructive type of danger.
UPDATE 4 PM 10/17/12: In the days since this initial report about Amanda Todd’s suicide, the story has become even more convoluted and concerning. In an effort to clear some of this up, I decided to vet Anonymous New Jersey’s research on Kody Maxson. While no one can definitively link Kody to Amanda’s suicide, it is apparent that Kody’s internet habits are unilaterally disgusting and revolve around online sexual extortion. Read my latest report here.
Update: We received a copy of the image that Anonymous New Jersey leaked through Pastebin that was previously inaccessible as a link hosted by Facebook. It’s a mosaic of Google Maps screenshots from British Columbia, the personal information of Amanda’s alleged harasser, and screenshots of accounts on jailbait websites that seem to link Kody Maxson to Amanda Todd. A copy of the image, with all personal details blurred, is available here.