by Niall McArdle
The perils of being a female celebrity and issues of privacy in the digital age have been highlighted over the last few weeks because of The Fappening. Unless you’ve been on Mars, you know all about it, and I’ve already commented on the fact that thousands of
perverts interested readers have come to my blog looking for photos of naked Jennifer Lawrence.
In a time when we could be using the Internet to share information and help solve problems, too many people are chipping away at its weak spots for all the wrong reasons. The latest would-be victim of the celebrity photos leak was to have been Emma Watson. The actress made a powerful speech about feminism at the United Nations last week, in which she argued that gender stereotypes entrap men and women alike.
Watson delivered the speech to launch HeforShe.org, a solidarity movement for gender equality. She received a standing ovation and the congratulations of many commentators. Celebrities, including Simon Pegg, Tom Hiddleston, and Watson’s Noah co-star Russell Crowe – are supporting Watson and her campaign.
Immediately, however, there was also a wave of hateful and quite scary feedback. A 4Chan website, Emma You Are Next, announced that in a few days it would release nude photos of Watson, apparently as a reaction to her speech. “That feminist bitch Emma is going to show the world she is as much of a whore as any woman,” wrote one 4chan board member. There was also a campaign to get the hashtag #RIPEmma trending on Twitter.
As it turns out, the site, which went viral after getting millions of hits, shares and comments, was part of a hoax set up by Rantic Marketing. And it was designed to shut down 4Chan. Visitors to the site now are presented with a hashtag #SHUTDOWN4CHAN. The site includes the message “Join us as we shutdown 4chan and prevent more private pictures from being leaked. None of these women deserve this and together we can make a change.”
The website also includes an open letter to President Obama. “Dear Barack Obama,” it reads, “We have been hired by celebrity publicists to bring this disgusting issue to attention. The recent 4chan celebrity nude leaks in past 2 months have been an invasion of privacy and is also clear indication that the internet NEEDS to be censored. Every Facebook like, share & Twitter mention will count as a social signature — and will be step closer to shutting down www.4chan.org.”
On Twitter, Rantic posted the message “We fully support Emma and her campaign #heforshe. Hopefully 4chan users will convert to feminism right before it goes down.”
It’s not clear, however, if the hoax was intended to shut down 4Chan or simply to drive traffic to SocialVEVO, a group that makes a habit of this sort of online fakery.
Is this a laudable case of celebrities fighting the Fappening on social media to protect their privacy? A strange, risky and slightly unnverving attempt to censor the Internet? Or just a case of online marketing?
You can show your support for Watson’s campaign by clicking here.
Parts of this article were originally posted at 2paragraphs.com