A 25-year-old female Redditor has finally come up with a way to beat Reddit's r/CreepShots posters at their own game: compile their personal information and report them to their bosses and local authorities. So far, it's working.
One afternoon in late September, Coweta County Sheriff Investigator Jason Fetner asked Christopher Bailey, a 35-year-old substitute teacher at East Coweta High, to meet with him regarding a school theft. But when Bailey arrived, Fetner told him the real reason for their meeting: he knew that Bailey had been posting photos of his students — "Hot senior girl in one of my classes," read one charming caption — on the subreddit r/CreepShots, some of which had been viewed thousands of times.
Most of Bailey's CreepShots contributions were relatively "innocent" (for example, you couldn't see the senior girl's underwear) and therefore legal, but the content Fetner subsequently found on Bailey's cellphone — including multiple texts and nude photos that he sent to girls as young as 16 — were not, and police are now pursuing charges. But how did Fetner know that the substitute teacher with a clean record was a secret sexual predator? Thanks to a tip from a group of anonymous Redditors who are sick of seeing the CreepShots community gleefully post teen upskirt photo after teen upskirt photo while telling the "internet morality police" to "fuck off" and stop ruining their fun.
Fetner told us that the tipster's anonymity made it extremely difficult for him to convince a judge to sign a search warrant for Bailey — it took "several hours of arguing" before he conceded — but that he sees no real alternative for the time being. "In my personal opinion, not all speech deserves to be protected," he said. "But until the laws in this country catch up to technology, we're going to continue to see these types of problems. There's nothing wrong with people looking out for this sort of thing and taking legal efforts to do something about it."
One of the leaders of these "people" is Samantha*, a 25-year-old Redditor who recently launched Predditors, a collection of incriminating personal information — photos, social media accounts, screencaps of CreepShots posts — that she plans on using to "out" Redditors whom she considers sexual predators. One day, she hopes, the site will allow users to report men to a select group of moderators, who will then investigate and verify claims and report the worst offenders to the appropriate local authorities.
"Reddit's defense of [CreepShots] is that it's 'technically legal,' she explained. (The subreddit's bio mansplains it well: "When you are in public, you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. We kindly ask women to respect our right to admire your bodies and stop complaining." You can also click here for information on how little Reddit's administrators seem to care about policing the subreddit.) "So I'm doing something that's technically legal, but will result in consequences for their actions. These fuckers think they can get away with it scot free, which is one of the reasons why sexual violence is so prevalent around the world."
Samantha has already started contacting colleges and cops about some of the two dozen or so men on Predditors, including a Redditor she has identified as Jeremy Wayne Lohr, a soldier in the Army Reserves and a student at Marshall University in West Virginia. She said the large amount of information she was easily able to compile about Lohr is indicative of how little Redditors like him care or think about getting caught. "They do it because they think they're safe and doing this to women won't result in any form of retaliation," she said.
Lohr did not respond to our request for comment, but Steve Hensley, Dean of Student Affairs at Marshall University, confirmed that several people were currently investigating Samantha's allegations and said it was unclear whether it was within Marshall's jurisdiction as a state institution to take action. "The photographs were not pornographic, but they were creepy nevertheless," he said.
Hensley said he thought a "low-level intervention" would be sufficient if nothing beyond a student's passion for CreepShots was uncovered, but acknowledged that anyone who frequented the subreddit might have more to hide. "It's certainly credible and logical that [a fondness for CreepShots] would manifest itself in other areas of their lives," he said.
The only "Predditor" who responded to our requests for comment was Joseph Anguiano, whose photo, DJ name, Twitter account, and neighborhood are all listed along with one of his CreepShot posts. Anguiano had no qualms about confirming his Reddit account and seemed doubtful that Samantha's idea would take off. "It's not illegal," he wrote in an email. "You can take a photo of anything you want when you're in a public space."
But will Redditors want to take photos of unsuspecting girls and women if they know they might actually face IRL repercussions, regardless of whether they've committed a criminal offense?
Sure, most of the men on Predditors may only be guilty of posting CreepShots like "My manager at work, such a nice ass" and "looong legs." But Samantha believes that CreepShots is a gateway drug to more dangerous hobbies. Fetishizing non-consent "indicates [that CreepShots posters] don't view women as people, and most will not be satisfied with just that level of violation," she said. "I want to make sure that the people around these men know what they're doing so they can reap social, professional, or legal consequences, and possibly save women from future sexual assault. These men are dangerous."
As of today, CreepShots is set to private and possibly shut down for good — likely because someone threatened to out a senior moderator — but the subreddit's enterprising fans will almost certainly figure out some other way to photograph unsuspecting women and post their photos on the internet. (Oh, hey! Looks like they already have.)
Regardless of what these creeps call themselves or where they set up camp next, the police officers and college administrators we spoke with seemed more than willing to help Samantha and her cohorts investigate further. "This seems like a way for women to empower themselves," said Fetner, who has a daughter of his own. "And what other recourse do they have?"
*Not her real name.