In terms of volume and the stars that were involved, the “Fappening” was the greatest celebrity nude photo leak that the world has ever seen. On Labor Day weekend 2014, an anonymous 4chan user stayed true to his promise of leaking celebrity photos that he allegedly sourced from their hacked iCloud accounts. The Internet was lit on fire and in particular, the online community reddit.
If it were just a nude photo or two of some B-list celebrity, no one would have even batted an eye. But the photos belonged to some of Hollywood’s hottest young actresses. Some of the names caught in the storm were:
Kim Kardashian,Rihanna,Selena Gomez,Kirsten Dunst,Sofia Vergara and Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney – all in various stages of undress. Probably the most shocking of all (and that which received the most attention) were the compromising pictures of Jennifer Lawrence, star of the popular Hunger Games series and the defacto poster girl of the Internet.
A few hours after the initial leak on 4chan, the whole front page of /r/celebrities were filled with nude pictures of Lawrence and albums were made that showcased the “best” ones among them. Since reddit’s demography is predominantly male, a dedicated subreddit (/r/Fappening) was eventually organized and served as a dumping ground for past and present pictures. Things started to heat up when the 4chan hacker announced that he also had in possession a two-minute sex video of Lawrence which he planned to auction off to the highest bidder. (As of this writing, the video had never materialized).
However, all scandals come to an end, eventually. Some stars denied that the pictures were theirs, claiming that these were photoshopped; others were more relaxed about it and preferred to let the issue die a natural death (Mary Elizabeth Winstead scolded the hackers and told them that she “hoped that they feel good about themselves” sharing the pictures she took with her husband in the privacy of her home);
while others, most notably Jennifer Lawrence, went with the legal option, threatening to sue anyone who posts and shares her pictures online. This seemed to have worked since the 4chan hacker stopped releasing the pictures (and the aforementioned sex video); the ‘Fappening’ subreddit was also taken down by a reddit admin and its creator publicly shamed online.
So, the moral of the story is this: everything that you upload online, no matter how secure and trusted the service is (such as Apple’s iCloud) can be hacked. Should you ever find the need to take sensitive pictures, think twice before clicking that “Save” button.