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 emmayouarenext.com 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.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.
"None of these women deserve this," the page states. "Join us as we shutdown 4chan and prevent more pictures from being leaked."
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 www.4chan.org" (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.