The Threats Against Emma Watson Were All An Anti-4Chan Campaign

from the everybody's-a-bad-guy dept

Update: It turns out that this story wasn’t complicated enough. New reports have come out to suggest the viral media company behind the hoax threats is itself a hoax attributed to a couple of people known for their spamming tactics. Per Business Insider: “Rantic Marketing is a fake company run by a gang of prolific internet spammers used to quickly capitalize on internet trends for page views. The group go by a variety of different names. Collectively, they’re known as SocialVEVO, but as the Daily Dot reports, their names are alleged to include Jacob Povolotski, Yasha Swag, Swenzy and Joey B. The only known video footage of the group is a rap song about pickles that they used dubious spam techniques to make incredibly popular. The song used to have over 8 million views on YouTube.” Delightful.

You’d have to be living in a cave somewhere to miss the fact that gender issues are in the news these days. Between the laughable response from the NFL when it has come to domestic violence, the fervor whipped up by the #gamergate controversy, and the nude-picture dump mostly of high-profile female celebrities in past weeks, the nation is talking about women, their roles in civilized society, and the way they are treated in general. It’s a fantastic conversation to have, one which Harry Potter star Emma Watson jumped into at the UN with a fantastic speech focusing on how gender equality is not a women’s issue. It’s an issue for everyone, male and female alike.

One response to her speech were threats on 4chan and elsewhere of a nude picture dump of Emma Watson. Included in these threats was a website threatening the release of the photos and a countdown timer. When this was announced, it made very little sense. There are creeps out there, on 4chan and elsewhere. We know that. Misogyny is a very real thing, as are silly protests that misogyny doesn’t exist. Still, the reaction of threats to a call by a young woman that men foster a better environment for their wives and daughters, a call that was simply about equality, made zero sense.

It turns out there was a good reason for that: the entire threat and websites built around those threats were bullshit, part of a campaign by a viral media company that is blatantly calling for both 4chan to be shut down and the internet to be censored.

But when the clock struck 12, no naked pictures were released. Instead visitors to were pointed to a marketing company’s homepage, its black background bearing a crossed-out version of 4chan’s four-leaf clover logo, and the hashtag #shutdown4chan written in large white letters. The site was a hoax, designed to draw as many eyes as possible not to actual pictures of Watson but to an apparent campaign set up to attack 4chan.

“None of these women deserve this,” the page states. “Join us as we shutdown 4chan and prevent more pictures from being leaked.”

What truly sucks is when a good cause is co-opted by scumbags. The cause of keeping people’s personal pictures private is one I’m completely on board with. I would never even think to do the kind of victim-blaming that has gone on elsewhere. “Celebrities shouldn’t take naked photos if they don’t want them to get out.” Screw you, they deserve as much privacy as anyone else. I’m on the side of the victims.

And the latest victim in all this, thanks to this horrific campaign, is Emma Watson. She has now been victimized by a viral media company supposedly looking to “help” victims. It makes no sense. All this past week, Watson’s name has been associated with nude photos of herself that may or may not exist. Whether they do or don’t doesn’t matter. Because she’s a young, beautiful woman, it got an insane amount of attention and will now be a part of her permanent public record. She did nothing to deserve this, beyond giving an impassioned speech at the UN. The focus was ripped away from her speech and placed instead on her body thanks to a campaign claiming it hopes to achieve the opposite effect. The hypocrisy is astounding. And the stated goals of the campaign are as childish as they are censorious.

The site hosts a letter directed to President Obama pockmarked with grammar errors and strange demands. The campaign’s organizers say that the internet “NEEDS to be censored,” and that every Facebook like or Twitter mention counts as a “social signature” that somehow means we “will be step closer to to shutting down” (sic).

None of that is true, of course, though I think the campaign may want to understand that their actions and victimization of a young woman ought put it squarely in the sights of their own censorious goals. 4chan, like any other internet ecosystem, has some good and some bad. It has misogynists and racists, as well as those who believe in equality. Lumping them all together and calling for censorship is horrific on its own. Dragging Watson into this to further the publicity of their campaign is downright evil.

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Companies: 4chan

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Comments on “The Threats Against Emma Watson Were All An Anti-4Chan Campaign”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Misogyny is a very real thing, as are silly protests that misogyny doesn’t exist.

Which is weird to me as a man. Really. I’d like them to give as much shit about sex than men for the greater humanity good.

Anyway, we live in an era of extremes and fundamentalism. People will have to learn to accept differences and work with opposed opinions before racism, prejudice, gender bigotry etc goes away.

Anonymous Coward says:

In many recent cases I have read/heard from “3rd wave feminists”, when they are calling for “equality”, what they actually mean is “parity” – which is antithetical to freedom of choice, as the only way for such parity to exist is through force.

Much of what 3rd wave feminists advocate for can sound good to individuals that do not know their definitions of the words they are using.

silverscarcat (profile) says:

Considering that Moot...

The owner of 4Chan is running scared from threats from, various SJW hackers and is getting pressure from Polygon lately into censoring and deleting stuff, you think 4chan was really behind this?

And even if 4chan was behind it (even though now it’s not), it wouldn’t have lasted very long before being shut down.

node (profile) says:

Re: Considering that Moot...

Additionally, the SJW contingent jumped on the 4chan story at least partially, since they are still trying to pin the whole #gamergate issue on 4chan as well.

This rabbit hole goes deep and is pretty much all cesspool.

With a large part of the media chasing clicks and nobody bothers to fact-check anything, extremist minorities on all sides are dictating the conversation. Reason and reasonableness has taken truly taken a backseat in all of this.

node (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Considering that Moot...

Great example here. Deliberate misunderstanding and antagonistic comments. No wonder that there is no actual communication.

I’m all for equality and would consider myself a feminist. Ask my wife. Unfortunately the social justice movement seem to less and less have anything to with either social justice or equality. I prefer Emma Watson’s version of feminism, something inclusive rather than exclusive.

JCHP (profile) says:

Re: Re: Considering that Moot...

Let’s keep in mind that in the middle of all of this, the only unbiased places to read about GamerGate are KnowYourMeme ( and… Enciclopedia Dramatica ( Because Wikipedia has a horde of people purging any attempt at unbiasing the article on GamerGate to balance out all the SJW propaganda.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Considering that Moot...

At least you can expect 4chan to be an asshole to everything that shows up on /b/, because thats what /b/ does when its not being shit; and if you don’t pay attention to /b/, you probably won’t know about it much.

SJW on the otherhand, will show up anywhere they goddamn want and shove the issue in your face in the most biased and reason-fucking way possible whether or not you want to even touch the issue with an a.u.-length pole. You will get dragged into the mess regardless of if you comment here, on reddit, on tumblr, etc. They are the Lawful Good of vocal minorities in their mind and Stupid Evil in anyone else’s.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Considering that Moot...

While Quinns conclusions are understandably biased what we have is a large number of now publicly available chat logs that show an malicious and organised attempt to direct gamersgate by a group of people from 4chan and elsewhere purely to act as as a cover for their direct and ongoing attacks on Quinn and other people they disliked.

There was a large and obvious astroturfing of the movement and but it’s no longer in any doubt that there was an attempt by people who you could large associate with 4chan to drive that campaign.You can argue about how effective they were but you can’t argue with the fact that we know that a number of people from places like 4chan where trying to influence it.

node (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Considering that Moot...

That’s why I initially said extremists on both sides. The harassment, doxxing and general vitriol has certainly not been one-sided.

Additionally, Arstechnica is not the most evenhanded source of information on the topic you can find, considering Ben Kuchera’s and Kyle Orland’s involvement in the matter.

Journalists advocating censorship is really something that should resonate here on techdirt.

Unfortunately this idea that the bad apples at 4chan and elsewhere have poisoned the well and therefore all #gamergate can be considered equally toxic is a large part of what is currently being fought for.

You are certainly not obliged to take my word on anything, just do a quick check how often the pro-gg crowd calls out bad behavior and compare that to the deafening silence on the anti-gg side.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Considering that Moot...

Ars was just the one I could remember reading that had all the links to all the relevant information for anyone who wanted to find out about what for themselves.

Not all of GG is toxic and that’s what was so damn malicious about it, a group of very vicious people saw a way to manipulate a community into playing along in their attacks by co-opping otherwise legitimate concerns that was sparked from a purely malicious attack on an ex girlfriend.

It was genius in a evil way how they pivoted what was basically an assholes of an boyfriend attempt to get revenge on his ex (including straight trying to humiliate her with “revenge porn”) in to a movement that they could use to attack and discredit both the victim and anyone supporting her or so called “Social justice” in the industry.

Hell they even went so far as to start “not your shield” as a cynical ploy to discredit anyone who wanted to call out exactly what was going on as a “interfering SJW” and it was brought by so many people hook line and sinker. They got exactly what they wanted by some how turning one of the most disgusting examples of how women are being treated in the industry into something that you’d come here and say, with a straight face, “SJW are trying to pin gamersgate on 4chan”.

And that is the saddest thing of all… It’s largely worked, it’s infused a movement about legitimate issues in gaming journalism with the whole anti “SJW” mindset and it started with the fact a girl had the audacity to make a game fuck someone who never wrote about it.

node (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Considering that Moot...

Just to bring the whole thing back round to Emma Watson and this article.

The SJW mindset is dangerous. No discussion is possible. You are either with them or your opinion will be discredited. Criticism is not wanted and censored where possible.

When this attitude affects journalism, and agendas take over facts and reason, I draw a line and I will vote with my money the attention I give.

I support all causes the sjw purportedly claim as their goals, but I utterly reject their rhetoric and methods.

Just look at how people jumped on this Emma Watson story. It’s so easily to blame 4chan as the bogeyman, when it is neither a homogeneous group of people or opinions.

In contrast, have a look at the usual sjw tumblers and see how Emma Watson is seen there.

If anything is toxic about this affair, it is the militant hate against anything not part of their echo-chamber and unfortunately Emma Watson isn’t and so has to be rejected.

Anonymous Coward says:

1. They are piece of hypocritical shit for using Emma Watson for their own gain.

2. They are morons for putting the blame on 4chan and not the hackers that accessed the photos and leaked them online – 4chan being only one platform where the images were leaked.

3. They are for censoring the internet, and on top of that an integration of social media as a digital thumbprint for what you post online.

Conclusion: Fuck them and I hope they get sued.

Groaker (profile) says:

This pretty much had to be a fraud. Would anyone think Ms Watson would not sign a release for nude pictures?

Really, what is the big deal? There are for the most part, with a few minor exceptions, two types of genitals, two types of chests, and minor differences in the shape of butts. I would think that anyone who has access to the ‘net knows those differences and has a pretty good idea of what most people look like with their clothes off — not as good as they do with them on.

Uriel-238 on a mobile device (profile) says:

Re: It's not the seeing it's the getting to see.

US culture is super-hung-up on body parts. Even though it would be possible to mo-cap some porn-star action, reskin some models with VERY realistic skins and faces (extrapolating unknown details), ergo, commit to video any pairing imaginable (living, dead or fictional doesn’t really matter.

And that would be enough evidence to give scandal and scorn to hot-property cuties. If they were underage, it would be child-porn and evidence of fictional abuse.

In the meantime, 4chan thrived when it was a fringe hole-in-the-wall. It may see an evacuation of some users, but it will persist and resurface again as the origin of future memes and mischief, despite that it’s well known already as a breeding pit for memes and mischief.

Anonymous Coward says:

Call me whatever you like but that statement “Join us as we shutdown 4chan and prevent more pictures from being leaked.” makes no sense.
Afaik the pictures have been around for quite a while in privat hands and are only now made public. So even if 4chan didn’t exist the person “leaking” them had enough possiblities to do so. Any celeb magazine that publishes wardrobe malfunctions would publish the pictures first if they had been offered to them. Sure they would take them down the moment the person lawyers up but so did 4chan. You can blame /b for many things but in this case it is not /b’s fault.


Re: Sometimes, they're all bad.

Actually. This is another case of double standards and misandry. Their most prominent recent incident was a mutual brawl participated in by both parties initiated by the “victim”. Only one side of the story was presented by the media.

They have their narrative and any facts that contradict the narrative get ignored.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Sometimes, they're all bad.

What a ridiculous comment, a mutual brawl. So if a child smacks me in the face does that give me the right to knock him out? It didn’t look like a mutual brawl to me it looked like a man knocking his girlfriend out with one punch. Is she 100% faultless? No. Does that give him the right to knock her out? No.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Sometimes, they're all bad.

So if a small man attacks a larger man, the larger man is morally prohibited from defending himself?

(FYI, that would have made a much better comparison for you to have made in the first place, but I realize it wouldn’t have had the same, blatant appeal to emotion as an adult beating up on a child.)

Anonymous Coward says:

I would never even think to do the kind of victim-blaming that has gone on elsewhere. “Celebrities shouldn’t take naked photos if they don’t want them to get out.” Screw you, they deserve as much privacy as anyone else

At the risk of sounding like an A-hole, I feel like it’s common-sense good advice as much as it is victim blaming. Yes, famous people deserve as much privacy as anyone else, but I would also give the SAME advice to anyone else. NO ONE should take naked pictures if they don’t want them to get out. Anyone who has been on the internet for more than a few hours is probably aware that “compromising” photos of women on the internet are in no way limited to just the Celebutante of the Day variety. Places like 4chan, reddit, and the “revenge” porn sites spoken of here make that abundantly clear. Every sister, daughter, niece, college freshman, etc. in the whole damn civilized world has been told repeatedly that naked pictures can very easily escape into the wild and cannot ever be taken back. When an event like this happens, I don’t think it is unreasonable to then use it as an example of why we always say just don’t do it. Play with fire – get burned. It can be a harder lesson for some than others, but that makes it no less true.
If I park a $20k Honda in the alley behind my building, it might get messed with. If I park a $200k Mercedes in the same spot, it’s virtually guaranteed to get messed with. That fact has nothing whatsoever to do my rights. It’s just the way of the world, and everyone knows it.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“I feel like it’s common-sense good advice as much as it is victim blaming.”

Context is everything. What he’s referring to is 100% victim-blaming, because it’s being used as a response to people who condemn the ones who actually did something wrong: the people who obtained and released the pictures. It’s a clear attempt to put blame on the victims.

That’s a world apart from giving someone advice.


Re: Re: Hiding the blatantly obvious.

Of course all of this backlash against victim blaming helped obscure the real problem and hide the responsible party. There was a corporation in the middle of this that had a duty to safeguard someone else’s data. They failed to do that.

This was an “I told you so” moment. Many of us have been saying for years that you should not trust your stuff to these cloud providers.

Doesn’t matter if it’s Facebook or Dropbox. Once you let it out of your control, you have to assume that the worst. Corporate apathy and cost cutting will take control.

Anonymous Cowherd (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Hiding the blatantly obvious.

Actually, these leaks are most probably the result of a combination of social engineering, poor security practices by the celebrities, and a small amount of actual hacking/cracking, rather than the result of a gaping security flaw from Apple (probably).

Apple could have potentially had better security, but this is basically the online version of Oceans 11 but for nudey photos rather than money (but also for money).

Groaker (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Want to be celebrities and their agents try to work the press for attention. Then for the few that manage to achieve that status, the press becomes anathema. Are the victims? Or are they reaping what they sow? If a celebrity gets what they want, then they drop the people who got them there.

Everything has a price. The loss of privacy for actual celebrities is even recognized by law. Not a total loss, but far different than for the average unknown. It is one thing to want to have the price of celebrity go both ways. In reality is quite another thing.

Whatever (profile) says:

It’s a wonderful story… but not about Emma Watson or anything else. It’s a great story about how the masses are lead, sheep like, to the double temple of celebutards and clickbaitdom.

It’s like an internet perfect storm. Take one naturally occuring thing, add another unnatural thing, and boom baby, you get traffic as them the sheeple all show up looking for whatever is the next big thing.

Somewhere, there is a 4chan dweeb snickering and posting anonymous “got you!” messages. The whole internet gone done been had.

Robert says:

Apperance Equality

When talking about gender equality you really are talking an appearance issue, what a person looks like, male or female.
How about an appearance equality issue, which is a very serious issue indeed.
How about the pretty but stupid taking precedence over ugly but smart. How about appearance taking precedence over knowledge, intelligence and experience.
It seems many people are all to happy to use inequality to their own advantage but complain bitterly when it goes against them.
Remember this the pretty ones are in reality just especially average looking and this has been proven.

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