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Emma Watson Nude Photo Threat was an Elaborate Hoax

A threat to publish stolen nude photos of actress Emma Watson has turned out to be an elaborate hoax. Ostensibly, the hoax was created to publicize a campaign to shut down image-based bulletin board 4Chan. But, even this supposed campaign appears to be bogus.

Here's how the hoax panned out:

4Chan Poster Threatened to Leak Nude Emma Watson Images

The saga began when an anonymous poster on 4Chan threatened to leak nude photos of Emma Watson. The threat came in the wake of 'Celebgate', a recent scandal in which nude images depicting many celebrities were released online by criminal hackers.

Given that those responsible for stealing the celebrity images began releasing them via 4Chan, the threat against Emma Watson at first seemed credible.

And, at the time, Emma was in the spotlight after she gave a passionate and highly applauded speech on gender inequality. The speech promoted the HeForShe solidarity movement.

'' Counts Down to Supposed Reveal

Then, the website, was associated with the photo leak threat. The site featured an image of Emma's face with a blurred background and included a countdown clock, the implication being that the nude images would be revealed when the count down reached zero.

The site - and the perceived threat - went viral, causing outrage as it travelled. Some news outlets even jumped the gun and published sensationalized reports about the supposed photo leak.

After Count Down, Site Redirected to Fake Marketing Website

But, thankfully, when the counter clicked over to zero, no photos of Emma - nude or otherwise - were revealed.  Instead, began redirecting to a site supposedly operated by Rantic, which bills itself as a social media marketing enterprise.

The Rantic website stridently calls for 4Chan to be shutdown due to its participation in the nude photo leak scandal. In an open letter to Barack Obama, Rantic claims that it was 'hired by celebrity publicists to bring this disgusting issue to attention'.   

However, the site does not state which 'celebrity publicists' did the hiring.  And, despite its claims that the company has 'participated in some of the most viral campaigns and music videos', there is no information about Rantic or its supposed previous campaigns outside of the website itself.

And, 'Brad Cockingham', the alleged CEO of the alleged company, has virtually no Internet presence related to his supposed marketing role.

In fact, the evidence strongly suggest that there is no such company as Rantic and the Rantic website is itself just a stunt.

In an article about the hoax, Business Insider denounces Rantic as a fake company and suggests that the prank was organized by a group of Internet spammers known collectively as SocialVEVO.

Motive Unclear But Tactic Reprehensible

The precise motive of the pranksters behind the hoax remains unclear. But, if the hoax was really an attempt to discredit 4Chan over the nude celebrity photo scandal, then it fails dismally. The hoax used deliberately deceptive tactics and perpetrated malicious and damaging lies about Emma Watson.

Thus, those who created it can hardly take the moral high ground regarding 4Chan and its users. In fact, by using such underhand tactics, they have shown to the world that they are no better than the immoral individuals who stole and later published the private photographs of celebrities in the first place.

Last updated: September 25, 2014
First published: September 25, 2014
By Brett M. Christensen
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