Google “Duke freshman porn star.” Don’t be surprised by what you see.

“Lauren,” Duke’s infamous, pseudonymous freshman porn star, has never appeared in the media by her real name. But you can find her real name if you Google it.

In fact, thanks to a series of soul-wilting anonymous postings on forums like CollegiateACB, AutoAdmit and Barstool Sports, you can find out a whole lot more than that without a whole lot of effort. You can see Lauren’s porn name, photos from her films, and her casting page on the Web site of the model agency she works for. You can find the name of her hometown and high school; her father’s profession and e-mail address; and a list of her hobbies and extracurriculars.

Long before the New York magazine interview, the college newspaper profile and the avalanche of related think pieces, Lauren had already been (a) outed and (b) accorded a level of scrutiny otherwise reserved for marquee celebrities or judicial nominees.


“We going to pretend like she was unaware of the social consequences of going into that business?” reads one of the many unsigned comments on a CollegiateACB, the anonymous college gossip forum beloved primarily by Greeks. “She made a decision, now she needs to live with the consequences.”

And “consequences,” when you’re a woman who has done anything unexpected or transgressive, means a total forfeiture of privacy online.

Anonymous gossip boards are, of course, not a new story — but their role in the Duke porn scandal has generally been played down. Lauren has said she only chose to go to the media with her story after being “cyberbullied” on the forums; the forums themselves publicized her name and identity a full month before national media did.

Colleges, of course, have grappled with this issue for years. Before Collegiate ACB, there was Juicy Campus — the “dorm bathroom wall” of a Web site that encouraged anonymous posters to spread “gossip” about their peers. Founded in 2008, Juicy Campus ruined several lives within its first eight months of operation. One Yale undergrad, like Lauren, was outed as a porn star. Another girl told the New York Times she worried about her job prospects after her (anonymous!) peers branded her the school’s “biggest slut.”


Torn between an obligation to protect students from harassment and to uphold first-amendment rights, several colleges considered blocking the site from their servers — a few of them actually did. But ultimately, Juicy Campus was brought down by economic pressures: After a year, the site suffered serious hits to its advertising revenue and venture capital funding and had to shut down. Google kicked the site out of its profitable ad network for violating profanity policies; meanwhile, college students waged a PR battle against the site.

“Those of us interested in staunching the flow of good morality out of the student body at Our Fair University want to know how to deal with JuicyCampus,” Bill Flanigen wrote in George Washington’s Patriot in 2008, before encouraging offended students to spam the forums with “free-verse poetry, absurdist short prose, wikipedia articles,” and homework assignments, among other things. Wrote Flanigen, somewhat grandiosely:

The approach is similar to astroturfing: at a protest, on a forum, in a press conference, you pack the seats with your supporters and pretend like you’re just naturally the majority … The point is that our environment often conditions our responses, and it’s “consciousness-raising” and behavior-changing to introduce someone to an environment with which they’re unfamiliar–say, one in which everyone on JuicyCampus is a Dadaist.

Apparently someone listened: Flanigen later reported that one anonymous poster had flooded Juicy Campus with e.e. cummings’ poems. But, after Juicy Campus shut down, CollegeACB followed. And when CollegeACB faded out, under hazy circumstances, CollegiateACB tooks its place. Whenever one site closed, there would be “countless replacements up and popular within weeks, if not days,” prophesied Peter Frank, the founder of College ACB. The potential of other people’s dirt was just too sexy for college students, advertisers and entrepreneurs to resist.

As if to prove that point, there are now at least a half dozen forums that have outed Lauren’s identity — some of them moderated, some less so. On top of CollegiateACB, there are gems like AutoAdmit (purportedly a forum for law school applicants, but frequently a pit of harassment and trolling) and Barstool Sports (a “lifestyle blog” that organizes “blackout parties” and makes unfunny rape jokes, among other things). Yahoo Answers had Lauren’s real and porn names within hours. Some enterprising soul set up an entire SEO-juiced WordPress blog that does nothing but collect personal information about her.


In short, as long as people care about reading gossip, and advertisers care about reaching readers, anonymous gossip forums will thrive. That’s just the Internet we live in. Protesting otherwise is almost as naive and absurd as Lauren’s repeated comments that she’d like to stay anonymous; there’s only anonynimity for gossipers, not their subjects.

Still, the case of Juicy Campus is instructive, and some of Lauren’s defenders have also taken to CollegiateACB to try to fight back against the trolls. They’re in the comment threads, defending how “nice” and “normal” she is; they’ve contacted the forums and asked they take Lauren’s information down, lest she be threatened by stalkers or fans. Lauren herself made an appearance in one CollegiateACB forum in January, before her story was widely known.

“Hey this is the girl you’re talking about,” she wrote. “You guys are horrible [expletive] people. Get a life beyond harassing me from the comfort of your computer screen.”

Of course, nobody listened.

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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