Shock site

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A shock site is a website that is intended to be offensive or disturbing to its viewers, though it can also contain elements of humor[1] or evoke (in some viewers) sexual arousal.[2] Shock-oriented websites generally contain material such as pornographic, scatological, racist, antisemitic, sexist, graphically violent, insulting, vulgar, profane, or otherwise some other provocative nature. Websites that are primarily fixated on real death and graphic violence are particularly referred to as gore sites.[3] Some shock sites display a single picture, animation, video clip or small gallery, and are circulated via email or disguised in posts to discussion sites as a prank. Steven Jones distinguishes these sites from those that collect galleries where users search for shocking content, such as[4] Gallery sites can contain beheadings, execution, electrocution, suicide, murder, stoning, torching, police brutality, hangings, terrorism, cartel violence, drowning, vehicular accidents, war victims, rape, necrophilia, genital mutilation and other sexual crimes.[2]

Some shock sites have also gained their own subcultures and have become internet memes on their own. featured a page devoted to fan-submitted artwork and tributes to the site's hello.jpg, and a parody of the image was unwittingly shown by a BBC newscast as an alternative for the then-recently unveiled logo for the 2012 Summer Olympics. A 2007 shock video known as 2 Girls 1 Cup also quickly became an Internet phenomenon, with videos of reactions, homages, and parodies widely posted on video sharing sites such as YouTube.


There have been several shock galleries that have launched and shut down. hosted murder videos and images of deceased people,[5] and brandished the motto "Pure Evil Since 1996".[6] During their operation, the owners of launched several new sites, one of which was in 2006. was created to sell mondo films like Traces of Death (1993).[6], which was established in 2000, hosted "mutilated corpses, car accidents, burn victims, congenital malformations and other grotesqueries".[7]'s reputation rested on its publication of gore media from terrorists and war.[7] In 2006, was rebranded as[7], established in 2008 by Mark Marek, was notorious for its extremely graphic content, such as photos and videos of murders, suicides and violent accidents with an estimated 15–20 million monthly visits during its operation.[8] Marek pleaded guilty and was given a six-month conditional sentence for his role in a case where he was accused of corrupting public morals in Alberta, Canada.[9] Some shock galleries, however, established more specific niches. The sites Necrobabes, Cannibal Café, and Gourmet tailored themselves to would-be cannibals in the early 2000s.[10] These sites gained attention in 2003 when Armin Meiwes, an aspiring cannibal, used the sites to connect with Jürgen Brandes, a man who desired to be eaten.[10] Additionally, Graham Coutts visited Necrobabes, Rapepassion, Violentpleasure, and Hangingbitches frequently before strangling teacher Jane Longhurst.[11]

There have also been several individual videos that received viral attention. Goatse[12][13] was one of the earliest and best-known shock sites, featuring an image of a man stretching his anus with his hands.[12][14] The site featured a page devoted to fan-submitted artwork and tributes to the site.[12][13] The site was shut down in 2004; however, various mirror sites featuring the image still exist.[15] In 2012, it was resurrected as an e-mail service.[16] In 2008, the Dnepropetrovsk maniacs posted the graphic murder video "3 Guys 1 Hammer".[2] This was followed years later by Eric Clinton Kirk Newman's (known now as Luka Rocco Magnotta) video "1 Lunatic 1 Icepick" in 2012—a video of Newman murdering Chinese student Jun Lin that contained dismemberment, cannibalism, and necrophilia, and was posted on[2] Newman also shared a video one year prior of him using a vacuum and plastic bag to suffocate two kittens to the song "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by John Lennon to several gore sites.[2] Meatspin is a shock site containing a looping video (set playing to "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" by Dead or Alive) of two people engaging in anal sex, while the penis of the receiving partner spins endlessly. Although frequently reported to be gay pornography, it has been mentioned that the clip was derived from a transgender pornography film. A counter keeps track of how many "spins" the viewer has watched.[17][18] In 2013, a student at Florida State University hacked the wireless network of his campus and redirected all traffic to Meatspin.[19][20] In 2015, consternation followed when a family restaurant played the website in front of young children.[21][18] In 2016, the website was played on a public digital billboard in Sweden, resulting in international media attention.[22][23][24][25] The site first went live on March 10, 2005. As of 2017, the domain is now John-Michael Bond of The Daily Dot stated that to an extent, "casual homophobia" of the 2000s helped popularize Meatspin.[26]


Currently, there is no federal or state legislation in the United States that outlaws possessing or viewing videos or images that depict the death of a human being.[2] In 2000, a bill was introduced in the California State Legislature to outlaw these films, but after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) raised protest over First Amendment concerns, the bill failed to pass. No other bill has passed since.[2] In the case of Miller v. California, the Supreme Court of the United States established a test to determine whether content falls under the category of unprotected obscenity.[2] The Miller test requires that content "appeals to the prurient interest" to be obscene, meaning content must have a sexual component.[2]

That test was modified by United States v. Richards, which ruled that animal crush videos (videos that involve the killing of animals) can be obscene and therefore, are not protected by the First Amendment even though they do not clearly appeal to sexual interests.[2] The court ruled animal crush videos to be unprotected obscenity for two reasons. First, animal crush videos can appeal to a "specific sexual fetish," which fits the sexual conduct requirement of the Miller test. Second, United States v. Richards modified the Miller test by ruling that obscenity "can also cover unusual deviant acts" even if they are not directly sexual.[2] Child pornography also falls under the category of unprotected obscenity by these tests.[2] Due to the combination of murder and pornography depicted on shock sites that contain murder videos like, legal scholars have argued that murder videos also appeal to specific sexual interests and are thus unprotected under United States v. Richards.[2]

In terms of liability, unless death videos are illegal, third party providers like shock sites that host death videos are protected by the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA).[2] However, websites that require users to upload illegal content or actively encourage users to create and share illegal content can be held liable.[2] Additionally, courts have granted increasing privacy rights to families over the publication and distribution of images of deceased relatives.[27] The owners of were successfully sued by families for hosting photos of dead people and videos of their deaths on the site.[5]

In the United Kingdom, Parliament passed the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, which included a section outlawing extreme pornography (that which is intended to sexually arouse viewers that threatens a person's life, is likely to seriously harm a person's anus, breasts, or genitals, or involves a human corpse or an animal).[1][28] This has resulted in shock sites, as well as American pornographers including Max Hardcore and Extreme Associates, being convicted of obscenity in the United Kingdom.[28]

During the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, the shooter broadcast the killings live on Facebook.[29] The video was shared on Facebook and uploaded to YouTube shortly after. Footage of the mass killings were hosted on 4chan, 8chan, LiveLeak, Voat, Zero Hedge, and KiwiFarms.[29] Rather than the Australian government trying to ban this specific instance of murder video, internet service providers in Australia chose to place temporary blocks on any sites that hosted the footage until all the footage was believed to be removed.[29]


Several ethical concerns have been raised on the topic of shock sites and murder videos. One concern is that the popularity of shock sites will encourage an increase in violent murders, which can result in more extreme and violent videos that will likely generate more views on shock sites.[2] Murder videos can inspire copycats to replicate the snuff films. After one of the Dnepropetrovsk Maniacs' videos leaked on the internet as "3 Guys 1 Hammer" in 2007, Luka Magnotta murdered Lin Jun, a Chinese student, and uploaded the video (including scenes of dismemberment, cannibalism, and necrophilia) under the similar title of "1 Lunatic 1 Icepick" in 2012.[2]

Another concern is the right of a victim and the victim's family to privacy after death.[2] This is the issue of whether Lin Jun's parents have a right to remove the video of their son's murder from the internet.[2] Murder victims cannot consent to the footage of their deaths being used and uploaded, and several court cases have agreed that parents and loved ones should have a right to prevent the widespread viewership of a personal tragedy and stop the video from being published.[27]

Finally, while shock value is not sufficient to justify banning content legally (as was determined by Cohen v. California),[27] there are still ethical concerns about the emotional damages caused by the jarring nature and content of shock sites. Viewing violent content such as murder videos on social media can cause or trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cause other emotional distress.[2]


As more people upload and view murder videos on shock sites, some believe that this practice is being mirrored in the horror movie genre. The presence of CCTV in Saw and the online torture auctions in Hostel Part II raise questions on the nefarious use of monitoring systems and the widespread access to videos of Al-Qaeda beheadings, executions in American prisons, and other real depictions of violence and murder on the internet.[5] In examples like Saw, the contemporary horror genre reflects real horror on the internet.[5]

Additionally, a parody of Goatse was shown by a BBC newscast as an alternative for the then recently unveiled logo for the 2012 Summer Olympics.[30][31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Attwood, Feona (November 2014). "Immersion: 'extreme' texts, animated bodies and the media". Media, Culture & Society. 36 (8): 1186–1195. doi:10.1177/0163443714544858. ISSN 0163-4437. S2CID 144857991.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Farmand, Musa K. Jr. (November 2016). "Who Watches this Stuff?: Videos Depicting Actual Murder and the Need for a Federal Criminal Murder-Video Statute" (PDF). Florida Law Review. 68: 1915–1941. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-11-18.
  3. ^ "Snuff: Murder and torture on the internet, and the people who watch it". 13 June 2012.
  4. ^ Jones, Steven (2010). "Horrorporn/Pornhorror". In Attwood, Feona (ed.). Making Sense of Online Pornography. Peter Lang. p. 124. ISBN 9781433102073.
  5. ^ a b c d Reyes, Xavier Aldana (2013), "Violence and Mediation: The Ethics of Spectatorship in the Twenty-First Century Horror Film", in Matthews, Graham; Goodman, Sam (eds.), Violence and the Limits of Representation, Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 145–160, doi:10.1057/9781137296900_9, ISBN 9781349451913
  6. ^ a b Snuff : real death and screen media. Jackson, Neil, 1968-, Kimber, Shaun,, Walker, Johnny, 1987-, Watson, Thomas Joseph, 1987-. New York. 2016-01-28. ISBN 9781628921120. OCLC 886489355.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. ^ a b c Stryker, Cole (2014-09-30). "Murder, Mayhem and the Evolution of Website LiveLeak". Newsweek. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  8. ^ "Edmonton gore site owner charged in Magnotta video investigation released on bail". Global News. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  9. ^ Reith, Terry (25 January 2016). "Mark Marek, who posted Magnotta murder video, pleads guilty to corrupting morals". CBC/Radio-Canada. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Beyond Hannibal". The Independent. November 20, 2003.
  11. ^ Sapsted, David (2004-02-05). "I have got an awful feeling I will strangle a woman". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 2022-01-11. Retrieved 2019-10-14.
  12. ^ a b c Kirkpatrick, Stewart (2004-06-09). "Lazy Guide to Net Culture: NSFW". The Scotsman. Edinburgh.
  13. ^ a b "The Hands of God". 15 June 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  14. ^ Kumar, Pawan (2008-11-11). "; Distended?". Yaziyo News.
  15. ^ "". Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  16. ^ Hutchinson, Lee (2012-11-19). "How went from shock site to webmail service". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2014-11-02.
  17. ^ Moore, Jack (February 2016). "9 Seemingly Innocent Phrases You Should Never, Ever Google at Work". GQ. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  18. ^ a b Hartley-Parkinson, Richard (4 February 2015). "Gay Porn On O2 Restaurant Booking Screen Leaves Diner Feeling Sick". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  19. ^ Munzenrieder, Kyle. "FSU Campus Wi-Fi Users Redirected to "Meat Spin" Shock Site by Hacker". Miami New Times. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  20. ^ Zimmerman, Neetzan (12 March 2013). "Florida State Student Faces Felony Charges for Redirecting School's Wifi Users to Infamous Shock Site". Gawker. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  21. ^ Hartley-ParkinsonRichard Hartley-Parkinson, Richard (3 February 2015). "Family saw hardcore gay porn playing on restaurant computer". Metro. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  22. ^ Barrell, Ryan (9 May 2016). "Meatspin Porn Website Somehow Ends Up On Bus Stop In Malmö, Sweden". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  23. ^ Prabhu, Vijay (9 May 2016). "Someone hacked a billboard in Malmo, Sweden to show hardcore porn". Techworm. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  24. ^ Samuelson, Fredrik (8 May 2016). "Reklamskylt visade grov porr på stationen". Expressen (in Swedish). Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  25. ^ Oakes, Omar. "Billboard hijacked with porn in Sweden". Campaign. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  26. ^ Bond, John-Michael (2017-02-03). "Revisiting Meatspin, the NSFW site that shocked a generation". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2019-09-12.
  27. ^ a b c Calvert, Clay; Torres, Mirelis (2011). "Staring Death in the Face during Times of War: When Ethics, Law, and Self-Censorship in the News Media Hide the Morbidity of Authenticity". Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy. 25: 87.
  28. ^ a b Attwood, Feona (2011). "The Paradigm Shift: Pornography Research, Sexualization and Extreme Images". Sociology Compass. 5 (1): 13–22. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9020.2010.00356.x. ISSN 1751-9020.
  29. ^ a b c Ma, Alexandra. "4chan, 8chan, and LiveLeak blocked by Australian internet providers for hosting the livestream of New Zealand mosque shootings". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  30. ^ Herrmann, Steve. "Shock tactics." BBC. June 5, 2007. Retrieved on February 23, 2009.
  31. ^ Johnson, Robert 'Bobbie' (June 8, 2007). "B3ta hacks the BBC with Olympic goatse". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 19 June 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2010.

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