She goes by the alias Ariella Alexander, and in between taking her kids to school and running household errands, she uploads intimate photos of women to her website, listing their full names and hometowns without their permission.
“I think some women actually like it,” she told America Tonight, near her suburban Baltimore home. “I mean, to be honest with you, I think some women love the attention.”
This is known as “revenge porn,” but with Alexander there’s a twist. Usually it’s jilted male lovers who post photos given to them in confidence, or taken by them in trust, in an attempt to humiliate their ex-partners. But the jilted lovers in this scenario are married women, who send Alexander photos of their husbands’ alleged mistresses. Her website is dedicating to naming and shaming “homewreckers.” She’s taking revenge on behalf of all spurned women everywhere.
Alexander says women have sent her more than 1,000 images, usually taken from their husbands’ cell phones. “One last night, I just had to look and say, ‘Why would any woman, I don’t care if you’re married for 50 years, why would you send this to your husband?’” she said. “God forbid this got into someone else’s hands, which could end up getting into my hands.”
The images are posted with commentary from the wives, often long, heart-wrenching tales of betrayal while pregnant, or by their friends or children's elementary school teachers. A lot of the photos are simple headshots – nothing explicit. For the women, this is a space to vent, and an opportunity to shame the people they blame for destroying their lives. They’re heavy on descriptors like "skank b****" and "unstable, delusional, psychotic, home wrecking whore!!!" (The adulterous husbands receive far less attention.)
Alexander is guided by a certain ethics. She’ll censor the details of women’s private parts and says she won’t post naked images of a woman below a certain age. “She’s 22, she’s 23, I’m probably not going to put her naked photos online,” Alexander explains. “If she’s 30, 40 or 50, you know better at that age.”
Asked how she ensures her names-and-shames are true and accurate, Alexander replied: “I can’t be certain for anything I read on the Internet if it’s true or not. I mean, you can’t be certain. Somebody’s telling a story.”
Alexander also runs a private blog called “I’m in Love with a Serial Cheater,” where she details her husband’s philandering.
Nothing Alexander is doing clearly breaks any laws. Under the Communications Decency Act of 1996, providers of an “interactive computer service” are in no way liable for what their users do, and piles of rulings since then have fortified the immunity of website owners. In her website's About section, Alexander emphasizes that the posts and comments "represent the opinions of the original poster and are not endorsed, approved or representations of the opinions" of the website or its owners.
But as revenge porn sites like this have proliferated, California and New Jersey passed specific laws criminalizing revenge porn, and several other legislatures, including in Alexander’s home state of Maryland, are considering the idea. On Tuesday, California’s attorney general charged a 27-year-old with identity theft and extortion for allegedly running a revenge porn website. The exhortation part was a side business the defendant ran, where he offered to get photos removed for a $300 or so fee.
Asked whether she thinks her website is constitutionally protected, Alexander replied: “Yes, of course. I’m following all the laws. I’m not doing anything illegal.”
“As far as expecting privacy, I think your privacy flew out the window as soon as you sent it to somebody else,” she continued. “It’s no longer a private photo.”