I remember when IsAnyoneUp.com was around. I was about 16-17 and had shared some risky messages. When I found out the site existed, I became paranoid that somehow I would end up on it, even though I didn’t have much reason to think I would. The idea that “revenge porn” was a thing people could do to target anyone they felt had wronged them, or even existed and dared to take a nude picture, was terrifying.
Back then, the internet really looked like a lawless no man’s land where anything could, e.g done, to happen. This is the state we return to in Netflix’s latest documentary series, The most hated man on the internetFocusing on the creator of IsAnyoneUp and self-proclaimed “professional life wrecker” Hunter Moore.
We already know how toxic social media platforms and online forums can be in 2022, but over a decade ago the debauchery and danger knew no bounds. It was so much easier to be anonymous and share awful things without being held accountable. But one thing that hasn’t changed is staying online.
Once something is on the internet, it’s nearly impossible to delete it permanently. Anyone who’s ever had an old Tweet captured and used against them knows this, but it’s even worse when it comes to photos.
Review The Most Hated Man on the Internet
Getting canceled for a joke told in bad taste pales in comparison, however, to the kind of mental torture Moore inflicted on the masses. He has set the goalpost for public humiliation and has used cyberbullying as a way to control and influence his many followers, who have come to call themselves “the family.”
Moore gleefully motivated his followers to antagonize victims posted on IsAnyoneUp, pushing many to the brink of suicide and declaring war on mental health. And while he created a forum awash with hate and victim-blaming, Moore refused to take responsibility for the culture he created, instead blaming the site’s users, who were the ones who actually submitted the photos to be uploaded.
Only Charlotte Laws and the FBI found out that wasn’t entirely true. Moore was later sentenced to prison after taking a plea deal on identity theft and hacking charges. He worked with a partner named Charlie Evans who he reportedly paid to hack into accounts and steal private photos, which would later end up on the website.
That’s how Charlotte Laws got involved. Her daughter, Kayla Laws, was hacked. And even though Charlotte and her husband, an attorney, were able to talk Moore’s attorney into having Kayla’s photographs removed (which Moore normally never did, no matter how much someone pleaded), Charlotte didn’t she is stopped until she was satisfied the “king of revenge porn” would get her comeuppance.
Now it’s been more than a decade since Moore rose to fame and he’s once again the center of a story, except this time he’s not the one in power. The most hated man on the internet excels as a documentary series because it focuses on Charlotte’s narrative and that of many victims who have felt the wrath of Moore or that of “the family”.
Many of the documentary subjects interviewed were people who knew Moore intimately or who had been influenced by the website. Coming from Raw TV, the makers of other popular Netflix documentaries like Don’t fuck with cats And The Tinder scammer, The most hated man on the internet is a captivating portrayal of a truly dark period in internet history, and Charlotte Laws was the perfect foil to Moore’s crusade.
Where the documentary fails is in failing to make meaningful connections between that era and modern internet culture, which in many ways has metastasized into a more insidious kind of corruption and mental torture, filled with hate groups, the alt -right, rampant disinformation and more. If Moore helped cure the prototypical incel, then what we see now is the next evolutionary phase, one that goes beyond revenge porn, into deeper pockets of depravity.
After being forced to shut down his website in 2012, Moore had plans to create a new and improved version of IsAnyoneUp, one that would actually incite real-life violence and possibly even murder. It seemed to not only court chaos, but hope for it, as if every instance of self-harm, bullying, or devastation was a result. IsAnyoneUp 2.0 would go much further, doxxing every victim and allowing users to not only submit nude photos without consent, but also include an address and driving directions on how to reach your home.
The scary thing is, while Moore was never able to launch that website, a version of his plans is what we see now more than ever with doxxing becoming commonplace and things like SWAT becoming part of the everyday Internet vernacular. Since 2010, the Internet troll’s arsenal of havoc has only grown. This is the kind of domino effect Moore happily facilitated way back in 2010.
In many ways, The most hated man on the internet is the perfect prequel to Netflix’s other recent docuseries, Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies and the Internet, which explores the very evolution of the internet feud I’m referring to, including SWATing, Q-Anon, and sextortion – something IsAnyoneUp has certainly helped bring to life in a real and terrifying way. The idea of anonymous users online exercising total control over your life because you dare to sext or post an opinion that a violent fringe group disagrees with is nothing short of horrifying.
That story is there, seeping into the background of each of the three installments of the documentary, but I wish we could have gotten a little clearer idea of these connections. In a way, it feels The most hated man on the internet it only scratches the surface of exploring the kind of environment that favored someone like Moore and raised him to a pedestal.
Her cult-like fan group known as “the family” could probably have used more fleshing out, maybe even a whole episode of focus, because, while Moore is the architect of IsAnyoneUp, is not entirely wrong to declare it at least some some of the blame lies with the website’s ruthless user base.
Even now, if you search Moore on Twitter you can see people still using the old hashtags and looking back with love about an era that many associate with the worst moments of their lives. What is it that makes people speak fondly of this kind of draconian public humiliation? Do truly do you believe that women and men should suffer harmful degradation for taking intimate photos or daring to appreciate their bodies? Is it just the act of playing judge and jury that excites them so much?
More often than not, these stories and documentaries focus on a single person, the progenitor or Charles Manson-like figure at the helm who orchestrates an arena where vitriol can fly freely, while the unseen but insidious masses lurk in people like Moores’ shade and benefit from their creation.
It would be nice to shine a light on the darkness by shielding those who participate from the sidelines and examine the kind of people who are proudly a part of these groups, who are happy to upload privately sent nude photos of their ex, post vicious attacks on waiting for someone or writing down hopes that a kindergarten teacher will lose her job. Still, despite the documentary’s shortcomings, it’s a pertinent cautionary tale and certainly feels “of the moment.” I think it’s always beneficial to give victims the opportunity to tell their story.
And while Moore was originally going to participate in the docuseries before retiring, it’s certainly fitting that for once, many of those who have been most influenced by Moore’s website and legacy are stepping forward as his the voice is the excluded one. At least he he had the courtesy to refuse, which is far more than he ever offered his victims.
To sum up, I think The most hated man on the internet producer Vikki Miller puts it best in her statement about what she hopes viewers take away from the docuseries:
I want people to be fascinated and moved by the series, and to see how pernicious and destructive the abuse of intimate images is. Even though this story took place over 10 years ago, it is still happening on a massive scale now. I want people to stop and think about what the impact will be before they send their ex-girlfriend nudes to their WhatsApp groups or websites where these images are now traded as Pokémon cards. Please listen to what these people have been through and don’t hurt someone you know like this.
And on a more positive note, I want people to take action on issues they feel strongly about. Charlotte never took no for an answer and through persistence and hard work she achieved her goal. And the “victims” featured in this series took action by talking and sharing what they’ve been through to prevent it from happening again. Fight for what you believe in!
Charlotte Laws helped pass laws against the abuse of intimate images, or “revenge porn,” in 48 states, but now there is still US federal legislation against it.
The most hated man on the internet starts streaming tomorrow, July 27 on Netflix.