Dr. Phil takes a look at photos posted on TheDirty.com. Under a photo of a young woman, it reads: “She * my best friend’s boyfriend, and she has always been the type to just take anything she gets. I found these adorable pictures of her. I just wanted to know, would you?” The creator of the website, Nik, wrote a response: “No, I don’t sleep with girls who wear training bras.”
In another seemingly normal photo of a woman, the comments read: “She looks like a tranny,” and “An alcoholic and a druggie.”
These are not celebrities being trashed in the tabloids; they’re regular people whose photos get posted anonymously with dirt-dishing comments and additional commentary by Nik.
Nik is speaking out for the first time about his controversial website. He tells Dr. Phil, “When I started the site, I was looking at reality TV and how popular it was, and how popular celebrity gossip was, and I thought no one actually did reality Internet. How could the tables be turned in a gossip-type manner where it’s about real people?”
“These are just regular people going about their own business,” Dr. Phil says. “Somebody takes their picture who doesn’t like them, or for whatever reason, and then they just write terrible, horrible, insulting things about them on the website.”
“It goes both ways, but yeah, there’s a marketplace for it,” Nik says. “What I’m doing is a business ” ”
“Well, there’s a marketplace for heroin too, but that doesn’t justify being a heroin addict,” Dr. Phil says.
[AD]”Yeah, but if 15 million people weren’t coming to my site, then obviously it’s something that’s demanded and needed,” he says.
“Wait a minute. You think this is needed? You think it’s a necessary element in today’s society?” Dr. Phil asks.
“I think it’s a form of holding people accountable for their actions, Dr. Phil,” he says.
“Holding them accountable? You actually think you’re holding people accountable? Who are you to hold people accountable?”
“People are sending me stuff from all over the world. I didn’t ask to be the guy. I just stumbled upon it, and the timing was right,” Nik says.
Dr. Phil tells him, “You’re not posting people’s dirt. Many times, you realize, you’re posting lies about people.”
Nik says he moderates the content and if he doesn’t believe it to be true, he deletes it. “But people can say whatever they want,” he says.
“So, you do take ownership for the site because you’re editing it and therefore responsible for what clears and what doesn’t,” Dr. Phil says.
“I’m not the one submitting the stuff,” Nik clarifies.
“I understand that you’re hiding behind a legal loophole that I think is fast closing on that, but you also just said that you edit this site, so therefore you take responsibility and have control over it.”
Dr. Phil reads comments made about one woman in a photo. “You allowed someone to post, â€˜She gave her stepfather a * in exchange for her boob job.’ So, you take off the things you don’t think are realistic, and you think that’s â€¦?”
Nik says only about 10 percent of the submissions make the website. “According to what I saw on the image, I thought it looked realistic, yeah,” he says.
[AD]”Do you think that these posts that are put up are intended to embarrass or humiliate or hurt someone?” Dr. Phil asks Nik.
“I think people like to see their neighbor get to a certain point and fall, so yes, in a certain way, I think it is,” he says.
Dr. Phil doesn’t think Nik is being honest. “This is to hurt someone,” he says.
“It’s to get a rise out of someone,” Nik says. “I’m not going to say hurt because I don’t think that’s what it is.”
Dr. Phil reviews a list of teens who’ve committed suicide after embarrassing things were posted on the internet. “Ryan Halligan was 13 years old and on October 7 of 2003, he killed himself after people posting bad things on the Internet about him. Jeffrey Johnston, 15, killed himself, Rachael Neblett, Megan Meier, Hope Whitsell, Jesse Logan, Phoebe Prince, Alexis Pilkington, Tyler Clemente ” these guys, all after humiliating, embarrassing things were posted about them on the website, committed suicide, took their own lives. In my opinion, it’s not a matter of if but when that’s going to happen based on what’s being posted on TheDirty.com.”
[AD]Nik doesn’t worry about that happening. “I take stuff down all the time. My legal team, we go through submissions, if we see something that’s even borderline, if someone says they’re going to commit suicide, I take it down. I’m not doing this ” it’s not a personal vendetta against anyone,” he says.
“No, I don’t think it’s personal vendetta, I think it’s profit for you. I don’t think you care what the impact is,” Dr. Phil says. He acknowledges that Nik does delete content when asked.