Good afternoon ladies and gentleman. Class is now in session. I am very happy to be with you today, substituting for Professor Froomkin. The subject of today’s session is: Did the Craigslist Sex Baiting Prank Break the Law?
By now I am sure many of you are familiar with Jason Fortuny’s sex baiting prank at Craiglsit. For those who are not, I brought along the cliff notes (warning: not safe for work):
"Last Monday Seattle resident Jason Fortuny carried out a thought experiment into reality — one I think anyone who has surfed Craigslist sex ads has entertained. He took a hardcore Women Seeking Men ad from another city and reposted it to see how many replies he could get in 24 hours. Then he published every single response — photos, emails, IM info, phone numbers, names, everything, to a public wiki. Then they went public on Jason’s LiveJournal page calling it The Craigslist Experiment, inviting readers to identify the CL ad’s responders.
"(…) Since then Jason has had *his* private info published to CL and been threatened physically, threatened with lawsuits, and has been hated on by everyone from online BDSM communities to Wired. Wired called him "sociopathic" while commenters are saying things like "Disclosing an email to the public is indeed a violation of privacy, and if anyone has a spine, they will take you down with a massive lawsuit that will make you regret ever doing this. You are a liar, a xenophobe, and deserve to have your ass beaten to within an inch of your life."
The story went viral, getting posted all over the web.
In my opinion, what Mr. Fortuny did was wrong. He could have performed the same experiment without violating people’s privacy by blacking out the subjects contact information and identifying pictures.
It does teach us a lesson – be careful about what you share with strangers.
TIP: If you don’t want your "business" posted all over the internet, then don’t email it to people that you don’t know.
My questions for the class are:
"But the biggest issue he could fall into is the fact that posting nude images online without proper 2257 documentation is illegal. You can’t post nude images online in the US without proof that the individual is 18 years of age or older. A single offense could be a fine of $25,000 and up to 5 years in jail."
In summation, after carefully reviewing the statute, it looks to me like this prank fits the criteria for a privacy tort claim.
There may be some Discourse.net readers more qualified to answer the legalities of this than I.
Heck, who am I kidding? I’m not an attorney. I’m just a substitute for the day. Discussing Miami travel is my thing. Professor Froomkin was just nice enough to invite me to hang out with you. I don’t know anything about Privacy Torts and 2257.
So, I will take this opportunity to learn what the class thinks.
Was this prank illegal? Will these
dumbasses victims be awarded civil damages? Could there be a criminal indictment against Mr. Fortuny for posting nude images? Morally speaking, was the Craigslist sex baiting prank right or wrong?
If you would be so kind to continue this discussion after class, we can all meet up in the Comments.
Thank you for your time today. Class dismissed. 🙂
• Are Accounts of Consensual Sex a Violation of Privacy Rights?
• Encyclopedia Dramatica – RFJason CL Experiment (warning: not safe for work)