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A Troll Is Getting Well-Followed Porn Performers Suspended on Twitter

A triptych of three porn performers.

Over the past few years, as porn performers have truly moved into the driver’s seats of their careers, their reliance on social media has grown. Platforms like Twitter and Instagram can be used not only for making someone a star, but to direct fans to new projects or even self-owned content on fan site platforms like OnlyFans and JustForFans. Now, over the past few months, a troll has been using that reliance against performers, abusing reporting tools in order to get accounts suspended in what has revealed itself to be an elaborate extortion ploy.

Since September, Rhyheim Shabazz — an adult performer who shot to prominence over the past year mostly through his own OnlyFans and JustForFans pages, amassing over 300,000 followers under the Twitter handle @SRyheim along the way — has been the subject of repeated Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaints for content uploaded to his Twitter account. The complaints have been placed on a variety of his media including selfies and his video content.

“[Initially the complaints said] they’d been contacted by the owner of a song and that I was violating their DMCA terms,” Shabazz tells Out. His videos, which are made with a videographer, sometimes have music edited into the footage. “So I stripped my page of anything that had music. So when I received the next notice it was obvious that someone was maliciously reporting my posts.”

The complaints continued to come from a semi-anonymous filer, so much so that an automated email was sent to Shabazz from Twitter marketing itself as a final warning. In an effort to keep from being suspended, a Twitter purgatory that Shabazz has rarely seen performers come back from, he voluntarily deactivated the account on November 10 in an attempt to pause future complaints while he challenged the outstanding ones. 

As Str8UpGayPorn, an industry blog that was the first to report on the attack, found, one DMCA claim on a Shabazz selfie was registered to a “Tony Frank,” who used a McDonald’s restaurant in Atlanta as an address, an incorrect telephone number, and fake email address. Another is registered to a “Libon Bacchus” that lists an address in New York and says, “I declare under the perjury laws of the United States of America that this notification is true and correct.”

For almost two weeks, Shabazz left his account deactivated as he essentially fought to post his own selfies. On advice from a follower, he filed a DMCA Counter Notice, which gave the person making the initial claim 10 days to prove their claim. And then, using the contact information in Shabazz’s Counter Notice, the troll reached out directly.

In a bit of a rambling, nonsensical email sent November 13 that was obtained by Out, the person took credit for disabling the account of @Hot_Cal, an anonymously-run Twitter page that worked with various performers to post clips and boost traffic.

“You deactivated your Twitter account, it’s not suspended,” they wrote. “Because I took down @Hot_Cal(I have evidence) and few[sic] other Twitter accounts. It shows suspended. I took down 2 people’s OnlyFans accounts too. So I know when an account is deactivated or suspended.”

The writer went on to claim that he owns software that allows him to download media and then repost it onto Twitter, backdated. This would mean that he could essentially pull down a selfie of Shabazz, and repost it onto Twitter but make it appear as if he had posted it first, which might, at a glance, make others believe his account owned the copyright considering the dates.

The email ended with a threat. Shabazz had logged onto his Leon Reddz account in the wake of his deactivation to alert fans that he believed his page was being hacked — Reddz is a performer that Shabazz manages and works closely with.  “He shouldn’t complain if his account is gone this week,” the email read, referring to Reddz. A WhatsApp message viewed by Out, sent the same day to Shabazz, vowed that the sender would get the information required to back up the DMCA claim.

“You can read my message and email and not reply,” it said. “I promise you. You won’t hold a place on Twitter anymore. I’m going after your OnlyFans next.” And there were more threats to go around.

The next day, on November 15, Max Konnor, another performer who is popular on social media via his OnlyFans and JustForFans but also is a growing favorite in studio work — Shabazz has done studio work as well, filming for TimTales — tweeted a screenshot of an email he received. “I guess I’m next,” he wrote in the caption. “Love you guys.” The email attempts to use the sender’s past successes as leverage.

“Ive[sic] taken down @Hot_Cal and Rhyeheim Shabbaz[sic] from Twitter social media you are next on my list,” the screenshot said. “Should I go on and take your account down? Or we negotiate.” The full email, which has been viewed by Out, includes screenshots of complaints against Shabazz.

“I have no clue what he wants to negotiate,” Konnor told Out at the time. But the next day, Konnor and Shabazz received an apology. 

“You can activate your account,” the email to Shabazz said. “I’ll be sending an email to Twitter so my takedown can be canceled. Hurts that I decided to hurt people instead of dealing with myself. Have a nice life.” Konnor’s email which was shorter, also apologized for the “threat.”

Whether the apology was only to lower the performers’ defenses, or whether the troll felt spurned by a November 16 email from Shabazz that said, “Keep doing what you do. It’s far more fun catching you legally,” the attacker doubled down on his efforts. In an extended email, he detailed alleged preventative steps that would prevent anyone from ever catching him.

“Let me help you loose[sic] hope,” he wrote on November 18. “I drive and park at an area just to send you an email there, far away from my office and far away from my house.” He also alleged he utilizes a VPN in order to spoof his location

“I just want you to know you will never get me,” he wrote. “Just pay and I will leave you alone. I have been doing things similar to this for over two years. They threaten to catch me then get tired. Just pay instead of going through all this. Because it’s left with one DMCA to take your account down. So activate it so I can get you suspended. I’m a computer scientists[sic].” Shabazz tells Out that payment had never been mentioned to him prior to the letter.

The email went on to say that by fighting the process, Shabazz is hurting himself and acknowledges that without social media, his source of income is affected. But, if he were to pay, the blackmailer would “move onto the next.” He also said that as a result of its coverage, Str8UpGayPorn would be “taken down.”

“I saw your friends brought up an idea, contacting Twitter to reveal who sends the DMCA,” he continued. “Legally, as long as I can take a pic or video from your Twitter and can post it on an account hours or minutes back. I own it.” Days later, on November 21, Reddz received a “final warning” from DMCA complaints and as a preventative step, deactivated his own account — the complaints referenced a fake profile, created in Reddz’s likeness. 

On November 23, @SRhyheim made its return to Twitter. The DMCA claims in contest against Shabazz had been overturned after lack of materials, so he reactivated his account.

“Sorry, but I’m back,” he wrote. There was rejoicing from his fans, and hopes that things had finally turned around. Less than 24 hours later, Twitter suspended the account as a result of new DMCA claims.

While his porn work is his full-time job, Shabazz is taking it all in stride. 

“I care, but not enough to let it bother me,” he tells Out. He says that financially, his numbers have begun to decline but “nothing dramatic” has happened yet so he’s not worried. “I mean the situation could be much worse, and at least people are conscious of it.” He says that while these particular complaints will likely be overturned, the root issue of how Twitter handles them (penalize first, verify only when pressed) will remain. @Hot_Cal has notably not returned to the platform.

While some have circulated theories as to who might be behind the attacks, few have any concrete evidence. When reached for comment, a Twitter spokesperson told Out, “Per our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives.”

Shortly after the @SRyheim suspension, the troll messaged Shabazz a string of laughing emojis on WhatsApp.

Tags: Tech, Porn

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