Beginning in August, a collection of over 200 private pictures of various celebrities—mostly consisting of women, and with many containing nudity, were posted on the imageboard 4chan in waves, and later disseminated by other users on websites and social networks such as Twitter, Reddit and Tumblr.
The images were believed to have been obtained via a breach of Apple’s cloud services suite iCloud. Apple later confirmed that the hackers responsible for the leak had obtained the images using a “very targeted attack” on account information, such as passwords, rather than any specific security vulnerability in the iCloud service itself.
The Fappening is a portmanteau, taking its name from 2008 film The Happening, and ‘fap’ – the colloquial term meaning: to masturbate. The phrase describes the process by which a hacker steals naked photographs of celebrities and then publishes them on image sharing sites.
Some critics and celebrities felt that the distribution of the images was a major invasion of privacy for their subjects, while some of the allegedly depicted subjects questioned their authenticity. Celebrities involved in the scandal include: Jennifer Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Gabrielle Union, Hayden Panettierre, Anna Kendrick and Victoria Justice among others.
While many women chose not to comment on their alleged leaks, Jennifer Lawrence – one of the most high profile cases- chose to comment on the leak in an interview with Vanity Fair, as summarised by Complex Magazine in the video below.
Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade released a joint statement saying, “It has come to our attention that our private moments, that were shared and deleted solely between my husband and myself, have been leaked by some vultures.”
They added, “I can’t help but to be reminded that since the dawn of time women and children, specifically women of color, have been victimized, and the power over their own bodies taken from them. These atrocities against women and children continue worldwide.For anyone out there also being affected by these and other hacking and hate crimes – We send our love, support and prayers. We have done nothing wrong.”
While, I agree that the leaks are an invasion of privacy and sex crimes, people must be aware that by sending pictures of this nature through phones automatically has the risk of being leaked later on. The risk will always be there and it is a risk you take when you send these pictures. Also, the speed at which photos are shared online means they are distributed faster than anyone can delete them. Furthermore, Reddit and 4Chan users hide behind anonymity, making it more difficult to track suspects down and stop future leaks.
In terms of how journalists have gone about reporting about this sensitive issue the majority of journalists have condemned the hackers and therefore shown support to the celebrities affected. Blogger Perez Hilton posted the naked pictures of Jennifer Lawrence before then posting censored versions and then later removing all versions from his website. Most people however would not regard sites such as PerezHilton.com or TMZ as real journalism anyway. The FBI are currently undergoing an investigation into the origin of the hacking scandal.
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