Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

by May 28, 2012
filed under Activism

Nik RichieIt’s a dirty business and no one should be doing it. It’s slutshaming, and Nik Richie, owner of website TheDirty.com, has the toxic formula down pat.

First, tipsters send in photos of women (and occasionally men) to the website. In many of these photos the women are in various states of undress or intoxication. It’s like the paparazzi for people who aren’t actually famous.

Second, the tipsters add some kind of ridiculous story — usually about how the women in the photos have slept with fifty guys, or how they have over 100 STIs — to the picture. Submitters don’t need a whole lot of tech savvy to submit – just a grudge and a gross personality.

Third, Nik gives his own opinion. His input ranges from saying that a woman is screwable, to saying that someone needs breast implants and a nose job before they can be considered attractive. Nik also doles out gems of wisdom, like how all strippers have Oedipal complexes, or how the women in these photos really need to clean up their lives. And get a boob job. He really has a thing about boob jobs.

In case you’re wondering how this website came to be, here’s a quick backstory: Nik Richie, the alias of Hooman Karamian, founded Dirtyscottsdale.com back in 2007. Originally, the website was created to shame and blame the citizens of Scottsdale. But, like some kind of cancerous tumour, it started growing and becoming popular throughout North America and even the world. Now there’s even a social network called The Dirty Army, which one can subscribe to for $9.95 a month.

Ask Nik why he had the urge to create the website, and he points fingers at the free market. In several interviews, Nik has mentioned that while there is reality television, up until his website he had not seen the Internet equivalent. So, he filled that empty niche with his website. But it’s not all about the money. In an interview with Dr. Phil, Nik said that TheDirty is, “a form of holding people accountable for their actions.”

Nik has been asked repeatedly how he can justify this website. Doesn’t he realize the hurt he’s inflicting on others? How can he agree to run a website with no standards of integrity and no intention of fact checking?

Nik doesn’t see his website as a place of damaging slander. No, he views these comments about women as “opinions.” As in, it’s his opinion that a woman looks like the type of person who has slept with a high school football team and has chlamydia. Or, he wouldn’t sleep with a woman because her acne made her face a “waste of beautiful eyes.” You know, in his opinion.

Furthermore, TheDirty.com is protected by the right to free speech. That means trolls can send in pics and stories about whomever they please, because those photos fall into the category of public affairs.

Neither can TheDirty be taken to task for any ass-hat comments from the users. The website cites the “Communications Decency Act” which states that a website cannot be held liable for comments and stories submitted, or posted by users. Only the users can be held accountable for their comments.

Fair enough; even the most respectable forum will have a troll or two (and this is hardly a respectable forum). But there’s an easy solution to stop this cyber-harassment: Moderators. They leave legitimate opinions alone and remove any written abuse. In not moderating his comment threads, Nik condones and enables cyber-bullying. Legally, he might avoid blame. But not morally.

In terms of getting pictures taken down, it’s doable. Email TheDirty your name, your email and the URL of the post and they will consider it. “Removal is done at the discretion of Dirty World LLC and may take up to 72 hours or more to process,” reads the FAQ page of the website. However, Nik has commented in interviews that if certain pictures are very popular, he won’t remove them. Supply and demand and all that.

Yet, while Nik says that his website is created to hold people accountable, he refuses to take any responsibility on himself. Again, Nik argues that he’s just fulfilling a demand and denies that his website is designed to hurt anyone. “It’s to get a rise out of someone,” Nik said in his interview with Dr. Phil. “I’m not going to say hurt, because I don’t think that’s what it is.”

Sure, Nik. Sure.