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An Army of Women Are Waging War on the Web’s Most Notorious Revenge Porn Site

Anon-IB, a terrifying porn database where men can track (often underage) victims by name and location, is back from the dead. On TikTok and Reddit, women are organizing to kill it for good before it ruins more lives

The first time that Emilia, a 23-year-old from Rhode Island, saw revealing photos of herself online was after a guy she knew DM’d her a link to them. Initially, she didn’t believe him — she’d only ever shared her nudes with her ex — but the man kept sending her the same link over and over again. Eventually, she clicked on it.  

As soon as she did, she was confronted with an image of her own bare bottom on a website called Anon-IB. She scrolled down to see not just other women’s nudes, but pictures of girls she graduated high school with. Shocked and disturbed, she warned the six girls she recognized. Each was underage when the photos were taken (Emilia was 16 at the time). Worse yet, every photo was accompanied by their names and locations.

“We were all completely devastated because it’s something so intimate that was only meant for that significant other, and now fucking pedophiles are getting off to it,” Emilia tells me over Zoom. “Most of us were in the paper for sports, [so] you could easily look up our families and get our addresses. All the boys at school knew about it — they’re the ones who did it. Even the ones who didn’t do it would see or hear about it.”

Emilia’s confident that her ex-boyfriend leaked the photos. “It’s heartbreaking because you think you’re in love with someone one second, and then that betrayal just destroys you,” she says. She guesses that he saw their breakup as an opportunity to contribute to Anon-IB, a popular and controversial site that organizes non-consensually posted nudes into an international database organized by name and, more worrisome, location. Because of this, the women on the site can be tracked down by people who know where they live, work or go to school. 

Anon-IB has a long history of hosting revenge porn. It’s been around since at least 2014 when it was first reported in the press for leaking celebrity nudes (though today, images of everyday women greatly outnumber the famous ones). But despite the media attention and the growing outrage around it, the site has been extraordinarily hard to remove, popping up whack-a-mole style every time it gets taken down. In 2018, for example, Dutch authorities shut it down after a year-long investigation when a woman reported that her stolen personal images had been posted there, but now, the site is back up and running on a different domain. 

In February, an organization called BADASS Army — which supports victims of revenge porn — began tracking conversations on 4chan and Reddit in which people were asking where the site was. According to BADASS Army founder Katelyn Bowden, the site has been up for the last year, but the situation worsened during the pandemic. “With COVID, it’s been especially rough,” she explains. “More people are spending time in their house, more people are pursuing sexual relationships over the phone and on the internet. There’s sexting, there’s more nudes being created and there’s more creeps with more time on their hands to post them.”

Once you’ve learned to navigate Anon-IB’s basic HTML format, you can see that those who use it have their own unique codes and practices. Some ask, optimistically, if anyone has nudes of specific people from their past, with requests like, “Huge slut back in high school, any wins on this one?” (a “win” meaning a naked photo). They also write “bump” in the comments section of an image if they’re particularly interested in getting it to the top of the page, which is organized by popularity.

Sometimes, in a twisted attempt at bartering, they’ll offer to unload nudes of certain women but only if they get some of another woman they’re looking for in return. Women are often called “sluts” for being naked in these photographs, while others are labeled as “desperate skinny bitches.” Often, a user will post a picture of their college crest to try and create a section dedicated to their old school acquaintances, alumni or even current classmates. Private photos are also stolen from OnlyFans — paid for once, and then offered out for free. Other times, they’re shared by an ex-boyfriend or partner looking for vengeance. As one contributor writes, “Found all these pics of my ex-wife after we split… degrade her for more.”

In August, Emilia realized that the nudes that had haunted her in Rhode Island had appeared in a new file for Connecticut, the state to where she’d moved. That meant someone on the site was keeping tabs on her whereabouts. “I just really hate this site with all my heart,” she says. “I realized this is going to be a constant. It will never be stopped whatsoever, and I just couldn’t bear all these girls going through what I was going through. It’s still ruining people’s lives around me.”

This motivated Emilia to create a TikTok video that warned women of Anon-IB. In it, she begins by saying, “If you’re a female watching this, please don’t scroll, you need to hear this for your safety.” She then proceeds to show her viewers how to access the illicit folders organized by state before telling other women to search for their own state and see what’s there for themselves.

@eatyogreenzz

Since I received so many messages and questions. This shit is REAL. Spread awareness. #viral #selfawareness #PlayBall

♬ original sound – eatyogreenzz

Her video has received more than 9.5 million views and hundreds of comments from women, many of whom have been victims of revenge porn themselves. One, who would prefer to stay anonymous, says that she knows her nudes are on the site and it’s been affecting her life for almost a decade. “I first heard about Anon-IB when someone commented on my Facebook wall and said something along the lines of, ‘You’re naked on the internet, you don’t look too bad,’” she tells me. Those unwanted comments multiplied, and soon enough, men were coming into the salon where she worked to mention it. She believes this is the reason she lost her job.

Emilia’s video also caught the attention of Wren, a 24-year-old from New York. “I checked my state, and on the first page, I saw my sister’s friend,” she says. “I was shocked. I thought it couldn’t be her — this is a girl I’ve known for such a long time, and I knew she wouldn’t post them herself, so I kept going. I clicked on a local college page, and I saw two other girls that I recognized — people who I’d seen at parties before.” Wren decided to write a post on the subreddit r/twoxchromosomes, hoping that more women would see it and warn their friends. 

Never share your nudes with anyone, men are putting them up on websites sorted by location and by college, even including names from TwoXChromosomes

Similarly to Emilia’s TikTok video, Wren’s Reddit post blew up. She received messages from around 1,300 women, all concerned that either they or someone they knew were on the site. Many could recall a time when they’d let someone access their nudes, someone who they perhaps no longer trusted, be it a date or an ex-husband. “You wouldn’t think that one day, 1,300 people would contact you thinking they could possibly be on there. It made me think this could really happen to anyone. Then I got angry. I thought women shouldn’t have to live in fear like this.” 

Courtesy of Wren
Courtesy of Wren
Courtesy of Wren

In response, Wren made a private Google Doc that acts as a guide for those affected. It includes links to the website, a list of its ever-changing URLs and even a petition to take it down. Unfortunately, in August, it was leaked to 4Chan in a counter-effort to protect Anon-IB. Since then, only women who message her and pass her personal verification method are allowed to view the doc.  

Unfortunately, getting rid of Anon-IB isn’t as simple as it should be. The website is hosted on a poorly regulated Russian domain, and it’s hard to track who’s in charge of it (though Bowden believes the current website owners reside in the U.K.). As such, organizations like BADASS Army have taken matters into their own hands, devising defense tactics designed to obfuscate Anon-IB’s content from its users. In 2018, they flooded the site with Shrek memes as a way to saturate the content, but it was only mildly successful and Bowden says she’s hesitant to do it again. “It might increase their traffic or give them some form of legitimization, and I don’t know if they’re going to start collecting IP info when they start seeing pictures of Shrek coming up,” she explains. 

She’s also noticed that Anon-IB keeps hiding behind a paywall every time someone reports it, then coming out from behind it later. As of today, the paywall for the main site is down but some of the more disturbing content — such as child sexual abuse images — remains on another site behind a paywall, per Bowden.

Emilia and the other women from her high school went to the police when they first saw their nudes online, but, as is often the case, the police couldn’t do much to help. They did, however, encourage her to spread the word, so she’s not going to take her TikTok down, no matter the death threats she’s received from those defending the site. “I try not to look at it because I struggle with anxiety, but after my TikTok, they posted a picture of me and said, ‘Who has this pig?’ They’re really out for my blood,” she says. 

But she’s also found comfort in sticking together with the other women in her situation. Even though they couldn’t remove their personal images, the women she knew who were victims at her school became close friends. “It almost became the force of the women living in my area,” she says. “A lot of bad things came out of this but also a lot of good things.” 

She’s decided to fight back in a more literal way, too, as she now helps out at a local boxing gym to teach women self-defense. “I can’t really shut down the site myself because it will keep coming back,” she reasons, “but I can still do little things like that.”