“The Most Hated Man on the Internet” faces a bit of a logistical problem: How to visually represent the kind of photos that were posted by the “revenge porn” site IsAnyoneUp.com without invading people’s privacy all over again. Creatively tackling that, the producers deliver a highly watchable if salacious three-part docuseries, fueled by its truly hissable, made-for-TV villain.
That would clearly be Hunter Moore, who achieved notoriety in the 2010s by publicly reveling in his bad-boy image while posting explicit photos of people (mostly women) without their permission. The postings linked to Facebook and other personal accounts and compounded the bullying and abuse by urging the site’s followers to mock and ridicule those featured. Pleas to remove the photos, politely or otherwise, were laughed off, with little recourse for those whose lives were upended.
At least at first. Because “The Most Hated Man on the Internet” (the headline of a 2012 Rolling Stone article about Moore) also comes with its own white knight, Charlotte Laws, who turned Moore’s actions in posting unauthorized photos of her daughter Kayla into a personal crusade, contacting other victims and lobbying authorities until she found someone, anyone, who would pick up the cause and take action.
Director Rob Miller peppers the docuseries with testimonials from those whose privacy was breached, using words like “violated” and “humiliated,” as well as law-enforcement officials who – armed with revelations about photos being hacked and not merely provided by angry exes – were eventually able to pursue charges against Moore. The producers approximated the photos with help from willing participants on an adult website to illustrate how intrusive and explicit they were.
“The Most Hated Man on the Internet” primarily resonates as a cautionary tale about Internet trolling from an early practitioner and self-proclaimed “professional life ruiner.”
Yet while Laws’ tireless efforts to bring down Kayla’s photos, and then the entire site, give the project a heroic foundation, the series also contains a warning about the double-edged sword of the media microscope. In that sense Moore proved his own worst enemy, damaging himself through his smirking interviews and public persona, including a particularly tone-deaf appearance on CNN anchor Anderson Cooper’s syndicated talk show in 2011.
The most disturbing aspect of the story, meanwhile, might be the rabid nature of Moore’s online followers, which included not only hounding those on the site by leveling threats against Laws and others who might speak out. Again, it feels like a precursor to the armies of fans some personalities command, and the way the Web can magnify even tiny constituencies with a digital megaphone.
Netflix has enjoyed considerable success with a certain vaguely sleazy subgenre of docuseries – “The Tinder Swindler” and “Our Father” among them – and “The Most Hated Man on the Internet” falls squarely within that wheelhouse.
Like some of those projects, this one offers a sense of catharsis and uplift in Laws’ determination to see justice done. As for the fact that the title is devoted to the troll, consider that squeaky-wheel-gets-the-grease dynamic a sign of the times, both then and now.
“The Most Hated Man on the Internet” premieres July 27 on Netflix.