Planet Reddit

Doppelbangher Subreddit Lets Users Submit Porn Star Lookalikes for Women They Know

Classy.
(Photo: Imgur)

(Photo: Imgur)

It’s no secret that Reddit, the link-sharing site that members tout as a bastion of free speech and creativity, also serves as a seedy showcase of the sexism, racism and misogyny that’s always existed on the web. Reddit has a long history of publicly grappling with its dueling reputations: on the surface, it’s a knowledge-sharing platform that even the President has deemed worthy of his presence.

But the site has also battled to suppress some of its more hateful communities while toeing the free speech party line. Last year’s Violentacrez scandal, in which Gawker outed one of the site’s most notorious trolls for moderating the controversial subreddits r/Jailbait and r/Creepshots, exposed much of what Reddit admins gloss over in favor of inspiring “free and open Internet” rhetoric. In short: Reddit, much like a lot of the Internet, is still a pretty difficult place to be a woman.

Communities like r/Doppelbangher don’t make it any easier. The subreddit, which has over 8,000 subscribers, allows users to submit photos of celebrities and–more typically–users’ friends so that others can find their porn star lookalikes. It seems kind of harmless at first: sure, we totally get why it might be funny in a weird way to find your porn doppelganger. But the majority of photos appear to come from male redditors looking to find porn lookalikes for women they know, whose photos they’ve used without their permission. Creepy.

Of course, like most of Reddit, the subreddit discourages the outing of personal information. “If you are going to post a Facebook pic make sure the girl in the picture can’t be traced back,” reads the subreddit’s sidebar. But just because the women in the photos are anonymous, doesn’t mean they appreciate cropping up on a subreddit like r/Doppelbangher.

One female Reddit user found her photo on the site and was so incensed she created a throwaway account, “wtfisthisbull,” in order to respond. In response to the post, “[REQUEST] Friend from high school,” which asked for users to submit porn lookalikes for her photo, the woman posted a photo of herself holding up the sign, “You’re disgusting.” The user deleted his original post, but not before being shamed out of the subreddit.

Vengeance is sweet, sure, but the existence of r/Doppelbangher speaks to a deeper pattern of casual misogyny and disrespect that permeates the site, one so obvious that even former Starfleet captains take issue with it. “I am apalled [sic] by some of the immature, horrifically racist, sexist, homophobic, ethnic… etc.. posts that are just ignored [on Reddit],” William Shatner wrote in a post to r/StarTrek this weekend. “Reddit has been the first ‘mainstream’ site that I have been to that actually appears to allow racists and other hate mongers to group, congregate, incite and spread their hatred. There’s entire subreddits that allow it.”

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com