The Emma Watson Nude Photo Leak Threat Was a Viral Marketing Hoax

Watson Threatened
Watson was threatened after an empowering gender equality speech.
Over the weekend, Emma Watson delivered a powerful speech about gender equality to the United Nations. Shortly thereafter, 4Chan, that ragtag group of internet trolls thought to be responsible for the recent leaks of nude celebrity photos, allegedly started, a site threatening to release, in retaliation, nude photos of Watson herself.

Only that isn’t what happened at all.

As it happens, was not the product of angry, unwashed basement dwellers; in fact, it was a viral marketing hoax created by a company called Rantic.

Dazed reports that EmmaYouAreNext now redirects to Rantic’s homepage, where there exists an open letter to Barack Obama calling for the shutdown of 4chan. They appear to be starting a “movement” using he hashtag #ShutDown4Chan. (Surely #ShutDownRantic would, at this point, gain more traction.) Part of the letter reads as follows:

“We have been hired by celebrity publicists to bring this disgusting issue to attention. The recent 4chan celebrity nude leaks in the past two months have been an invasion of privacy and is also clear indication that the internet NEEDS to be censored.”

Do you believe that celebrity publicists hired a company to create a fake website threatening a real woman with the leak of nude photos? No? No one else does either. What seems more likely is that Rantic created this campaign as a way of drumming up publicity for themselves.

So to sum up: A woman makes a passionate speech about gender equality. A website threatening her privacy (and safety) pops up and is attributed to a known group of internet hackers and troublemakers. Eventually, a marketing firm takes responsibility for the site, though under false pretenses. Everything — the internet especially — is the worst.