Scram Media Limited and two of its contributors have apologised and agreed to pay defamation damages to US-based NoFap LLC and its founder Alexander Rhodes after publishing an article on ScramNews.com titled “Academic receives “death threats” from far-right after crowdfunding campaign to sue her.”
NoFap runs an online pornography recovery platform that enables users to connect with a supportive community of individuals determined to reduce or eliminate pornography use and free themselves from compulsive sexual behaviours. It receives millions of visitors every month and has been covered by a wide variety of outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, BBC, Business Insider, Time Magazine, MTV, The Washington Post, and Showtime.
The Scram News article contained numerous false and defamatory statements concerning NoFap and Mr Rhodes. In particular, the article wrongly suggested that NoFap and Mr Rhodes were affiliated with extremists (including anti-Semites); that they had brought a frivolous and vexatious defamation claim in the US Federal Court in order to stymie legitimate academic research; that they had incited extremists to harass and threaten the defendant in those proceedings; that a crowdfunding campaign for the litigation had resulted in a defendant being stalked and their address being posted online; and that they had published misleading information about the case by wrongly suggesting that the defendants have ties to the pornography industry in order to secure funding.
Scram has now published a full retraction and apology which can be found here. This acknowledges that the publication was wholly misleading of the work undertaken by NoFap and Mr Rhodes, of the defamation claim brought by Mr Rhodes and the crowdfunding campaign, and that neither Mr Rhodes or NoFap have incited members of such extremist hate groups to harass or threaten the defendant. Mr Rhodes’ defamation claim does not concern the defendants’ research, but rather alleged defamatory attacks on Mr Rhodes and NoFap. The legal Complaint in that claim can be found here.
Scram Media Limited has agreed to pay Mr Rhodes substantial damages and his legal costs. It has undertaken not to republish similar false allegations.
Unlike many initiatives that have traditionally raised concerns about pornography, NoFap LLC prides itself on being secular, apolitical, sex-positive, and science-based. It is used by men and women from all over the world, from a wide variety of backgrounds, religious and spiritual beliefs (or non-belief), sexual orientations and identities, ages, nationalities, ethnicities, and other characteristics.
Commenting on the settlement, Mr Rhodes said:-
“Our success in raising awareness about pornography addiction has resulted in us being the subject of a prolonged smear campaign orchestrated by elements who have close ties with the pornography industry, who have sought to falsely portray us as being affiliated to religious groups, hate groups, and extremists in an attempt to discredit us. Our website unites people from all walks of life to overcome porn addiction together. These elements appear to want to falsely controversialize the issue and misrepresent us to distract people from our actual views, the facts, and the emerging body of scientific research. Despite their ongoing defamation and disinformation campaign, we will continue to provide resources for recovering porn addicts.”
NoFap LLC and Alexander Rhodes were represented in the UK claim by Iain Wilson and Elisabeth Mason