The Threat To Release Emma Watson Nudes Is a Hoax, but with What Goal?

The countdown is over and the true intention of a threat to post hacked nude photos of Emma Watson is revealed. Or is it?
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The countdown is over and the true intention of a threat to post hacked nude photos of Emma Watson is revealed. Or is it?
Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 3.21.03 PM

A few days ago, the internet was abuzz with a threat that appeared to be made by the inhabitants of the internet Thunderdome known as 4Chan. That threat: to release nude pictures of Emma Watson to punish her for daring to speak out about a new pro-equality initiative at the U.N. last weekend. It's turns out, though, that the truth is a little more bizarre than that.

While it appears much of the repugnant wrath that Watson drew from the "men's rights" idiots at 4Chan was for real, whoever created the actual site dubbed "Emma You Are Next," which promised a release of hacked nude photos of her once a countdown clock reached zero, was nothing more than a hoax. The goal of that hoax is what's now up for debate.

Once the countdown ended at "Emma You Are Next," there were no photos of Emma Watson. Instead, the page suddenly became something called "Rantic.com" and featured the image above and the one below.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 3.06.53 PM

The idea would seem to be to call attention to the damage 4Chan is doing by providing a forum for illegally obtained images of celebrities, but there's something else at play here. The site features another slate which claims that during the countdown, it was visited by more than 48 million people, was shared seven million times on Facebook, and was tweeted out more than three million times. In other words, while it might seem at first blush like Rantic is trying to call attention to the outrage behind -- and maybe prurient interest in -- this potential nude photo leak, given that the company is a self-described "social media marketing enterprise" that specializes in viral campaigns, it actually looks more like a boast. It comes off like not much more than a self-promotion ploy.

The thing about 4Chan is that you can never tell when it's screwing with people's heads so it's always possible that someone involved with the site is behind the entire "Emma You Are Next" campaign, even as it's revealed to be an alleged plan to end 4Chan. That would be such a double-cross mindfuck that you can definitely imagine the 4Chan people being a part of it. But regardless of the actual intention, there's no doubt that the website and its ominous countdown really did raise awareness and draw angry media attention to a celebrity hacking scandal that doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon and which is claiming some very real victims.

(h/t Verge)