A group of women is suing a popular social media platform that allows users to share sexually explicit photos of themselves.
The suit filed Monday by the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Campaign for Innocent Images (CIO) says the platform was designed with “a young female audience in mind” to allow users to post explicit images of themselves without fear of being reported to police.
The complaint filed Monday alleges that the company has “created a dangerous climate for women” by allowing users to upload photos of their private parts.
The site was founded by an entrepreneur named Matthew Johnson, who says he “was born to a single mother and raised by a single father.”
Johnson has since moved on to found the company he now runs, Campaign for Innocence Images.
According to his Facebook page, Johnson founded the platform in 2012 after he was exposed to the online abuse that he endured from fellow online predators who preyed on young girls in his early teens.
Johnson has said that he’s been the victim of online stalking, and said he would not be comfortable with his daughter sharing nude images.
The lawsuit alleges that Johnson was bullied online for years, including being told by strangers that “I’m a pedophile” after sharing photos of his daughter.
Johnson says he didn’t share the photos with anyone, but that his daughter was encouraged to share the images in order to “get attention.”
The lawsuit is seeking class-action status for women who have been sexually assaulted by Johnson and others.
Johnson’s daughter, Emma, was a minor when the alleged crimes occurred, but is now 17.
According the complaint, Johnson, as well as other members of the company, encouraged the abuse by encouraging Emma to post sexually explicit images.
Johnson allegedly told his daughter “to use whatever means necessary to get a response from him, including using the internet to send out death threats to anyone who would talk to her about the situation.”
Johnson says that his business model “created the climate for these horrific crimes” to happen.
Johnson, the lawsuit says, is “engaged in an ongoing pattern of sexually harassing Emma” and that “his predatory actions towards her have left her with a permanent scar on her body.”
The site has not responded to requests for comment.
A spokesperson for Johnson, however, told CNNMoney that the social media company is investigating the allegations.
The company claims that it is “currently reviewing” the allegations and that Johnson will be available for an interview.