The Potential Price of Sharing Your Phone Number

A start-up attack website gives further evidence to the idea that people ought to think hard about sharing their phone numbers with others.  DirtyPhoneBook.com describes itself as offering “uncensored people reviews.”  It facilitates anonymous postings about individuals based on their phone number.  Posters can write comments and upload pictures.  The site encourages posters, under the tab “GPS,” to describe the precise whereabouts of individuals.  It asks users to rate a person’s looks, personality, age, money, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and gender.  It suggests that posters list individuals “aliases.”  The site promotes itself as offering people a way to find out “inside scoop before a blind date, 75% of Americans have some sort of STD, don’t be the next victim,” and “which one of your friends is gay.”

Much like other gossip sites, DirtyPhoneBook mostly consists of personal attacks, marked by racial, religious, and sexual insults.  Here are a few: “[Named person] is a cute little Spanish fag” who “cheats on his boyfriend” and “does drugs;” “[Named person] is a hot Christian Arab, I would make JIHAD to her from behind;” “[Named person] is a tall Phillipina bitch.”  Named individuals are described as “closet homos,” sluts, “hot spics” who posters would like to f—, and so on.

Interestingly, the site’s terms of service says that its users agree to refrain from engaging in activity that:

  1. is patently offensive or promotes or otherwise incites racism, bigotry, hatred or physical harm of any kind against any group or individual;
  2. victimizes, degrades, intimidates, harasses or advocates harassment of an individual or group of individuals on the basis of religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age or disability;
  3. exploits people in a sexual or violent manner.

This is, of course, absurdity at its finest.  The site urges people to rate others’ ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender all the while guaranteeing juicy gossip.  Yet it tells its users that they should not engage in activity that is “patently offensive” or promotes racism, bigotry, or hatred.”  Maybe someone needs to tell the site operators that they don’t need to claim cover–section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immunizes them from liability for the postings of others, and the First Amendment protects the sort of offensive speech described above with the exception of true threats and perhaps the intentional facilitation of harassment and violence.  But maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by the silliness.  As the Georgetown Hoya reported, Juicy Campus told posters: “You agree not to post content that is obscene or that violates laws relating to sexually explicit material, that infringes the rights of any third party … that is defamatory, or that constitutes hate speech.”

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