Want to see scenes from an actual sex trafficking torture porn? Check out PimEyes.

For $79.99 you can add an image to guard your face, but they have to verify your identity first… and it won’t catch everything without a $299.99 a month deep search subscription.

Content warning: sexual trauma and suicide.

2005 was not the first rough year I’d had. I’d experienced sexual abuse as a child. I’d been pushed twice into sexual contact I didn’t want as a teenager. I’d run away at 16 after my step-father had physically assaulted me for what I determined to be the last time and moved out the following year while I was still a junior in high school after the police determined that I was simply a troubled teenage runaway — a delinquent.

Despite putting significant off-and-on effort into graduating high school and going to college, even scoring a 1570 on the SAT and taking AP and dual-credit college courses, I was unprepared for life’s challenges, especially working multiple minimum-wage jobs and living in the slums of Everett, Washington with nothing but a mattress on the floor to furnish my seedy apartment and dropped out of high school.

Me at 15 years old, another result from PimEyes.

The off-again periods of my efforts led me down a dark path. I’d dated a small-time drug dealer 4 years old than me, and gotten hooked on Oxy, thanks to his cut of the windfall from Purdue Pharma. I’d also lost jobs because of him. He had a knack for doing drugs in walk-in freezers, laundering counterfeit cash, and committing armed robbery at the fast food establishments I worked at. I’m not saying I had no knowledge of what he was doing. I enabled him.

I was also 15 years old and incredibly damaged before he found me. He ended up in jail repeatedly and eventually prison, so that relationship ended naturally. I was lucky, too, because the relationship before me ended in a slew of domestic violence and unlawful harassment claims. The guy who followed him, though, was 10 years older than me, and had different habits. He liked cocaine and strippers. On the Sunday night that was my 18th birthday, I started dancing at Deja Vu on Lake City Way and got myself hooked on cocaine.

A result from PimEyes from 2005.

The next year wasn’t much better, but eventually I’d ended up in Glen Carbon, Illinois, east of the Mississippi river, in the Saint Louis Metro area. The friend I’d made on FaceTheJury, as it turned out, wanted more than just a friendship. I shouldn’t have been surprised that on a website which rated its members on their looks, the person who agreed to house me sight-unseen from half-way across the country would absolutely end up putting his hands down my pants as soon as I got there.

I was still a very smart, but very naive and very damaged 19 year old, and in the exact moment a man using an alias reached out to me on MySpace telling me he’d make me a star in New York’s finest pornographies, I thought it was the only purpose I served. He pushed me to send him nude photographs, telling me I had the face of a goddess. I did it, and he told me my body was made for one single thing — a man’s pleasure. That was the exact confirmation I needed to be pushed over the edge. With that, I agreed to fly, alone, to discuss my future in sex work.

It’s important to take a sidebar here and mention that my experience does not automatically mean that everyone in the pornography industry is an abuser, nor is every woman who works in the sex industry damaged and broken.

Sex trafficking is not sex work. It’s abuse, and the two are not interchangeable. There is no single story. I’m only telling mine.

A grave error in judgement

When I arrived in New York City, I was greeted outside the airport by several men, clearly in their 40’s, who didn’t look at all wealthy like I’d imagined.The owner of the production studio, had stains on his khakis and his tennis shoes looked older than me. They wrapped their arms around me and ushered me to 1980-something silver vehicle, complete with weathered cloth seats and floor carpets with what looked to be decades’ worth of soda spills all over the floor. The smell of old cigarettes and sewage was overwhelming, but nothing beat the growing pit of anxiety in my core as I realized I’d made a horrible mistake as the midnight skyline of the city that never sleeps disappeared in the rear-view.

Once to the “studio”, they asked me to give them a fake name. Create a backstory. I did what they asked; what else could I do? I was in the middle of nowhere, 19 years old, and surrounded by middle-aged men.

It continued to escalate, beyond what I can even say I might have consented to given the circumstances. Even crying and begging to stop did nothing. They didn’t publish it, though, until after 10 years had elapsed. Statute of limitations.

A few weeks after I found my way back home, I drank a six-pack of Killian’s Irish Red beer and took two bottles of Tylenol PM. I wound up in Christian Hospital’s psychiatry ward in Black Jack, Missouri after a short stay at the Emergency Room next to my house. I was there for six weeks.

A couple of years later, I got pregnant and changed my life. I got a new email, along with a new phone number, and went on with my life. Not long after I’d started advertising myself for software work, his alias again appeared in my email. I ignored it. It didn’t stop. Eventually, to prove his “love” for me, he shared his real name and gave me his real phone number. He even told me he was married, had children, and what he did for work. He gave up after a few years and stopped contacting me.

I coped with it by letting the forgotten parts to never have existed at all, until one day I ran across a post about authorities looking for information involving the alias he’d been using. I called the tip line and gave the investigators the information I had. He went to prison for sex trafficking minors.

To give you some insight into how terrible this guy is: the homeland security investigation into him arose from him trolling women’s shelters looking for vulnerable teenaged girls between the ages of 14–16.

After what happened in 2018, when I went viral to out the Overwatch League moderator, I assumed that the video must have never been published on the internet. Surely it would have been found by the people desperately searching for the revenge porn of me. So, I started talking publicly about what had happened to me. There were still parts I couldn’t remember though. My therapist told me that was my brain protecting me.

PimEyes: Extortionist champions of privacy

My brain did a great job until January 2022, when talking about an auto-tag by Facebook of an 1899 photograph of my great-great-great grandmother and genocide by facial recognition and Meta/Facebook on Twitter would lead a journalist to explore a facial recognition and shared genocide concerns with me. During our discussion, she asked me if I’d ever heard of PimEyes.

I hadn’t. I read a few scathing articles about how creepy it was, finding photographs of screenshots of people on YouTube from middle school performances and other weird dark-corners-of-the-internet, and that anyone could put in any photo and vwa-lah, they too can find nearly every single photo of you — past or present.

Some of the initial results from my PimEyes search, the top right is Britney Spears.

My research was targeted. I wanted to see if other facial recognition software would pick up relatives’ photos in the same way that Facebook’s did. Facebook had also tagged photos of my daughter, from the time she was a toddler, as me. A couple of times, it auto-tagged my mother as me, too. I started with those photos, along with the photo from the tweet. None of them returned photos of me. Curious if the reverse would show me photos of relatives based on my own face, I selected a random selfie and ran the search.

Middle school photo of me indexed on PimEyes.

They were mostly of me. One of them was a picture I posted on Twitter when I was like 12 years old wearing a candy necklace. Given that PimEyes has no idea how old that photo is, or who I am, it’s safe to say that if you put a photo of a minor in this software, and it can find matches, it most certainly will return them.

I scrolled and saw some unsurprising results, like most other facial recognition software I’ve used, pictures of Britney Spears and her sister, Jamie Lynn, popped up. One photo, though, looked like Kate Hudson, who I’ve also been told I resemble, and I clicked on it to check. Strangely, the photo was gated by a password from someone’s wedding and I couldn’t actually see it. How was PimEyes able to crawl it? I kept scrolling. My heart stopped. Someone had photoshopped my face into pornography?! No. It all came flooding back as I scrolled through the dozens and dozens of screenshots.

Another scroll from PimEyes, featuring Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears.

I composed myself and contacted a friend who had helped me use DMCA takedown notices to get all of the revenge porn of me off of the internet. Her lawyer contacted the websites with the DMCA notices, demanding removal. That was 3 months ago. Every single site ignored the demands. There’s a conversation to be had here about why we need to utilize DMCA take-downs to remove abusive content of ourselves from the internet, but this is about PimEyes, and any other software companies like it.

That’s when I noticed I could ask PimEyes to hide all of the images of me from their search results. That makes sense, right? Surely I should be able to control who can search for my face? Wrong. For an ongoing monthly fee of $79.99, PimEyes will allow me to control the search results in their basic search results features. To get all of them, of course, I’ll need to pay $330.59 ($299.99 + taxes) every single month, indefinitely, to stop people from finding them using PimEyes service. Tags on these images? “Abuse”. “Humiliation”. “Torture”. “Teen”. “Choke”. “Puke”. “Gag”.

There is no way to report an image for abuse on PimEyes.

PimEyes could be a great privacy investigative service, but it’s not. PimEyes does absolutely nothing to prevent abuse of its platform, other than requiring a $29.99 a month subscription fee to perform a limited number of searches. In the images, they only warn you that the result might be “potentially explicit”, but it doesn’t even always catch that, including one where I’m covered in my own vomit, clearly delirious and unwell, and the url for the image contained the word “abuse”.

The only reason I need PimEyes is because PimEyes exists. That’s extortion.

To PimEyes’ defense, they do offer an opt-out, which I requested, using one of the images of my face from their results. I’m still waiting to hear back. I also asked them a number of questions as a paid user with “dedicated support,” including what kind of guarantees the opt-out entails (is it as effective as paying $299.99 a month?) and if the opt-out involves automation or a manual process. They’ve not responded. For now, I’m paying an enormously outrageous monthly fee I cannot afford so that my trauma isn’t just a search of my face away from everyone with a will and $29.99 to spare.

It says image not found, but it’s still there, and un-flagged for “sensitive” content.

And opt-out isn’t good enough. I should opt-in for the service, and then, if I want PimEyes help in taking legal remedies, that should be a choice I make as a consumer, and in this case, as a sex trafficking survivor. PimEyes might like to pat itself on the back for doing good deeds in helping people rid the internet of images of themselves, but it’s clear to me that this software is invasive, dangerous, and an unlawful involuntary surveillance I never gave permission to participate in.

Unfortunately, it seems like asking to opt-out doesn’t even work.

A user tries to opt-out, but PimEyes says “Sorry, nope!”

We’ll see what they do with my request.

You have to exclude images one at a time, in case they aren’t caught by the guard.
Where are these images being saved? Who has access? How secure is this? What happens if there’s a data breach?

PimEyes tries to parade itself as a champion of privacy, letting users know that the images they utilize to run searches aren’t saved. Great. What about the hundreds of images of illegal, traumatizing content you have of me, available in less than 4 seconds?

PimEyes letting everyone know it won’t store their photos.

“We believe that you have the right to find yourself on the Internet and protect your privacy and image. Using the latest technologies, artificial intelligence and machine learning, we help you find your pictures on the Internet and defend yourself from scammers, identity thieves, or people who use your image illegally. That is why we have created PimEyes — a multi-purpose tool allowing you to track down your face on the Internet, reclaim image rights, and monitor your online presence.”

I didn’t ask for your help, PimEyes, and I shouldn’t have to spend hundreds of dollars a month until you allow me control over what content of me you’re indexing. Maybe in the meantime, while you learn what privacy and help mean, you can at least exclude the illegal crypts of the internet where the vast majority of people never visit.

Statement from PimEyes on April 5, 2022:
“Hello and thank you for contacting us. Regarding `Opt-out services, please our privacy policy which is publicly available on our web-site. Also, would like mention that Opt-out is right of any user and therefore, no fee is required to pay to use this right. Also, would like to underline on our behalf that PimEyes database doesn’t include any photo and accordingly we do not store your personal data like photos, images and etc. As far as our search engine search for photos on publicly available web sites we decided to provide DCMA assistance to our customers for additional fee, however our Open Plus subscribers are also available to access the URL address of illegally published materials and accordingly independently take measures to remove the content that violates their rights.”

PimEyes accepted my opt-out request after this was publicized. It doesn’t work.

PimEyes after I’ve opted out. You can still search for me using the image I gave them for the request.

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