Scott Breitenstein has an extremely negative reputation and has been called “internet terrorist” as well as “the worst man on the internet.” His legacy has ruined lives, destroyed relationships and shattered reputations. Scott has been subject to many lawsuits, court orders and pursued by Homeland Security because he hosted a “revenge porn” website. This site was a place for disgruntled exes to post nude photos or videos online as a way of getting back at them for cheating. In order to fully understand Scott, we need to backtrack to when he got into the hosting industry.
Scott came across a site called ComplaintsBureau.com in around 2005. He went to the site to complain about being scammed by an e-commerce website selling flat screen TV’s. After a week has gone by since he made his post, the TV seller website was taken down. He found himself happy that a complaint made a difference, even though he didn’t get back his money; the idea that he was able to prevent it from happening to someone else made him content with the situation. This caused him to contact the owner of ComplaintsBureau.com and asked if he can buy the site. Scott was an electrician and plumber who played around in web design; he taught himself how to use HTML and PHP to restructure the website. He was set on creating a site where anyone can blow the whistle on predatory businesses for scamming or ripping customers off.
Scott’s site was a very simple and plain website; however, it had a great search engine optimization compared to other similar sites. This is the reason why ComplaintsBureau’s posts were number one on Google search results for those businesses searched. Many times when customers were looking for that particular business, they would come in contract with ComplaintsBureau post with a negative comment about that business and the customer would never end up going to the designated website. This site was designed to put bad businesses to sleep and Scott was proud.
Several years later, ComplaintsBureau noticed a user who posted nude photos of his cheating ex-girlfriend. This gave Scott a new idea where he can host revenge porn on disgruntled exes. He noticed a huge surge in traffic to his website; the AdSense program by Google went up from $200.00 dollars to $1200.00. This became a thriving business and gave him the idea to start other websites such as ReportMyEx.com and CheatersRUs.com.
This business has caused him to kill his reputation as a person but more importantly, it was destroying the reputations of the victims. One girl even committed suicide after supposedly sending an email to get the photos and videos removed. Scott said that he didn’t receive the email and said he would have taken down those posts. On the other hand, he had a strict policy in terms of removing posts. His philosophy was about people posting complaints online as a way to warn others. Whether it was to warn about the terrible service at a breakfast place or a cheerleader who used men for money; Scott saw it as black and white. He wasn’t a perverted man who enjoyed these posts or felt utter sympathy. He was quite neutral about the business; he cared about the money and the users who felt they were betrayed. Due to the nature of his business, many law firms and agencies to shut down his site sought him out but he refused. According to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, he is allowed to host these particular sites even though it is illegal to post them. As long as he wasn’t creating and posting this content, he was protected within the law.
Eventually, he had a meeting with Annmarie Chiarini, a victim’s services director with Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and being a victim herself, who presented a video about revenge porn and how it affects women (since roughly 90% of victims are women). She described how it affected women and the social circles of these victims. Even though he technically isn’t the one posting them, he is still contributing to a corrupt system that provides sexual entertainment of non-consented people; this is still a sexual predator of a different nature. After having the meeting with Chiarini, he admitted that she was right and he probably has to shut down that segment of the website. Throughout the meeting, he didn’t argue or become defensive, he simply never saw it from that point of view. He still had the image of when he got vengeance from getting that cam of a TV website to shut down and the sense of achievement, which ultimately clouded his thought process on this specific matter. He wasn’t fuelled by perversion or malice; he was simply providing a service and had strict rules regarding his removal policy of posts. Ever since he shut down that aspect from the website, the Google Absence went down from $1200.00 to under $200.00 a month. He took a huge hit but it was the right thing to do, even though his reputation will always be regarded as the foulest person on the net.