The Fappening / Celebgate

The Fappening / Celebgate

Updated Nov 10, 2014 at 09:34PM EST by RandomMan.

Added Sep 01, 2014 at 02:06AM EDT by Don.

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The Fappening, a portmanteau of the words “happening” and “fap”, refers to a nude photograph leak featuring various high profile celebrities that were posted on 4chan in late August 2014. Many of speculated that the images were stolen via Apple’s iCloud service, which hosts photographs taken with iPhone mobile devices online.


On August 26th, a user on the imageboard AnonIB[9] replied to a thread about actress Jennifer Lawrence claiming that users on the site’s /stol/ board for hacked nude photos had obtained “explicit vids and pics.” Meanwhile, a user on /stol/ announced he was “trading celebs and ripping iClouds.”

On August 31st, nude photographs of over 100 female celebrities were posted to 4chan’s /b/ (random) board, including pictures of Jennifer Lawrence, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, Rihanna, Hillary Duff, Kaley Cuoco, Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Kate Bosworth and Victoria Justice.

Notable Developments

Online Reactions


That day, the subreddit /r/thefappening[1] was creator by Redditor johnsmcjohn for submissions of leaked celebrity nude photos, which gathered upwards of 50,900 subscribers in the first ten hours, becoming that day’s fastest growing subreddit according to the Reddit analytics site Reddit Metrics.[5]


Also on August 31st, 4chan users launched the hoax hashtag #LeakForJLaw to encourage female Twitter users to post topless photographs of themselves in solidarity with Jennifer Lawrence under the banner of social justice.

That same evening, Twitter user @Boogie2988[2] posted a topless photograph of himself accompanied by the hashtag, garnering upwards of 1,700 retweets in 15 hours.


#IfMyPhoneGotHacked[16] is a Twitter hashtag where people made light of the situation surrounding the Fappening by sharing embaressing, often photoshopped, pictures present on their mobile devices that would be released to the public in the theoretical scenario should their phone or iCloud got hacked similarly to the victims of The Fappening. Various websites and news outlets documented the hashtag on the first days of September, such as NBC News,[12] the Dailymail,[13] the Huffington Post[14] and the Daily Dot.[15]

Celebrity Reactions

On August 31st, a spokesperson for Jennifer Lawrence issued a statement to the tech news blog Mashable[4] revealing the celebrity’s intent to sue whomever is responsible for the leak, calling it a “flagrant violation of privacy.”

That same day, Mary E. Winstead posted two tweets shaming the person responsible for the hack and those who were viewing them.[6]

Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Victoria Justice posted a tweet denying that the topless photographs of her were authentic.[7]

On September 1st, Olympian gymnast McKayla Maroney posted a tweet insisting her alleged nude pictures were fake, along with a Buddy Christ image macro (shown below).[3]

Fundraiser Campaigns

On September 1st, 2014, Redditor FappeningHero submitted a thread urging other Redditor’s to donate to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) as a token of gratitude to actress Jennifer Lawrence, claiming the actress had donated to prostate cancer research in the past. In the first 24 hours, the post gained over 3,900 votes (93% upvoted) on the /r/thefappening[10] subreddit. The following day, Redditor THX-1138 submitted a screenshot from the PCF homepage, showing “Reddit The Fappening” as the top fundraiser for the foundation (shown below).[11]

On September 2nd, The Prostate Cancer Foundation released an official statement[17] in which they shared that they don’t condone with the manner of fund raising of The Fappening, and that they would return all donations that originated from Reddit.

We would never condone raising funds for cancer research in this manner. Out of respect for everyone involved and in keeping with our own standards, we are returning all donations that resulted from this post.

Users on /r/thefappening subsequently attempted to raise money for the organization, which provides aid to developing countries that do not have access to safe drinking water and sanitation. On September 3rd, Business Insider[18] reported that shut down the charity page Redditors were using to donate to the nonprofit organization.

Hacker’s Identity

Following the release of the photographs, 4chan users identified software engineer Bryan Hamade as the hacker responsible for the leak. On September 1st, The Daily Mail[8] published an interview with Hamade, who denied being involved with the leak.


On August 31st, The Guardian published an article by writer Van Badham titled “If you click on Jennifer Lawrence’s naked pictures, you’re perpetuating her abuse.” On September 3rd, The Daily Beast[19] published an article by writer Amanda Marcotte, arguing that the fappening demonstrates how misogynistic attitudes are pervasive in culture, with men who feel “they are entitled to own and control female bodies.” The same day, Vice[20] published an article titled “The Fappening Has Revealed a New Type of Pervert.” Also on September 3rd, YouTuber The Amazing Atheist uploaded a video accusing the media of hypocrisy in their coverage of the leak, providing examples of blog coverage for leaked nudes of men which failed to condemn those spreading the photos online (shown below).

On September 4th, Redditor SlipperyThong submitted a post titled “Oh Gawker Media. You So silly,”[21] featuring a comparison of Gawker articles about a leaked sex tape of former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan and the leaked nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence (shown below). In the first 24 hours, the post gained over 4,400 votes (96% upvoted) and 1,000 comments on the /r/TumblrInAction subreddit. Hoax

On September 22nd, the single serving site[25] was created with a photograph of Emma Watson and a countdown clock implying that the actress, who is no stranger to being the subject of sexually explicit photoshopped images, has been targeted as the next victim as part of the ongoing leaks of celebrity nude photographs. presumably in retaliation for announcing the launch of the international feminist campaign He for She at the U.N. Headquarters earlier that same week.

Meanwhile, the hashtag #RIPEmmaWatson was introduced on Twitter in an attempt to disseminate Watson’s death hoax. Within a week, the hashtag was tweeted out over 500 times. Within hours of reports linking 4chan to the threat of nude leaks of Emma Watson, some of the site’s users managed to track back the website’s server status and identify a company called Rantic Marketing as the owner of the domain. Furthermore, others soon uncovered evidence linking Rantic with Fox Weekly, an online news site that has previously gained notoriety for running hoaxes as news stories in order to generate traffic. After the countdown reached the deadline on September 23rd, the website redirected to[13], which provided a statement detailing the true intentions behind the stunt, mainly to shut down 4chan in retaliation for the celebrity nude photo leaks. Furthermore, was revealed to be a “fake viral marketing firm” created by Social VEVO founders Jacob Povolotski, Yasha Swag, Swenzy and Joey B.

Dear Barack Obama,

“We have been hired by celebrity publicists to bring this disgusting issue to attention. The recent 4chan celebrity nude leaks in the past 2 months have been an invasion of privacy and is also clear indication that the internet NEEDS to be censored. Every Facebook like, share & Twitter mention will count as a social signature -- and will be one step closer to shutting down "


Apple’s Response

On September 2nd, Apple released an official statement denying widespread speculations that the leaks resulted from an unauthorized breach in the company’s iCloud data storage service, including a particular rumor about a security vulnerability in Apple’s Find My iPhone service. The company further determined that the victims of the leaks were specifically targeted by the hackers who focused on compromising their usernames, passwords and security questions.

Online Censorship

On September 6th, the /r/thefappening subreddit was banned. That day, the official Reddit blog[22] published a post titled “Every Man is Responsible for his Own Soul,” which explained the reasoning behind the site’s approach to banning subreddits. Meanwhile, a Reddit thread regarding the blog post on /r/blog[2] contained many comments criticizing the company for its approach to /r/thefappening. On September 7th, Reddit admin alienth submitted a post to the /r/announcements[24] subreddit informing the community about how staff had reacted to the fappening and why they ended up banning the subreddit.

Subsequent Leaks

On September 20th, 2014, a second batch of nude photos of additional celebrities were leaked online, including Kim Kardashian, Hayden Panettiere (Nashville), Mary-Kate Olsen, Avril Lavigne, Vanessa Hudgens (Spring Breakers), Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) and U.S. Women’s Soccer team goalie Hope Solo, as well as even more nude photographs of Jennifer Lawrence. Less than a week later, on September 26th, 2014, the third wave of celebrity nudes were leaked by the same hackers, which included private photographs of actresses Anna Kendrick, Kelli Garner, Alexandra Chando, Lauren O’Neil, Brooke Burns and Mena Suvari. On October 5th, 2014, the fourth batch of additional nudes emerged, which included private images of actresses Winona Ryder, Nina Dobrev, AnnaLynne McCord, Zoe Kazan, model Erin Heatherton and Nick Hogan, the son of Hulk Hogan and the first male victim of the leaks to date.

The List of Alleged Victims

Note: this list has been most recently updated as of October 6th, 2014.

Ali Michael
AJ Michalka
Aly Michalka
Allegra Carpenter
Abigail Spencer
Alana Blanchard
Alexa Jane
Angelina McCoy
Anna Kendrick
Anna O’Neil
Ashley Blankenship
Aubrey Plaza
Abby Elliot
Annalynn McCord
Avril Lavigne
Amber Heard
Becca Tobin
Brie Larson
Brittany Booker
Candance Smith
Candice Swanepoel
Cara DeLevigne
Carley Pope
Carmella Carcia
Carrie Michalka
Cat Deely
Carly Foulkes
Chloe Dykstra
Clare Bowen
Dove Cameron
Elena Satine
Elle Evans
Ellenore Scott
Emily Browning
Emily Didonato
Emly Ratjkowski
Erin Cummins
Erin Bubley Heatherton
Farrah Abraham
Gabrielle Union
Gabi Grecko
Hayden Panettiere
Heather Marks
Hillary Duff
Jacqueline Dunford
Janelle Ginestra
Jennifer Lawrence
Jessiqa Pace
Jessica Brown Findlay
Jessica Dunford
Jessica Riccardi
Jesse Golden
Joanna Krupa
Jenny McCarthy
Josie Loren
Joy Corrigan
Kaley Cuoco
Kaime Oteter
Kate Bosworth
Kate Upton
Kelly Brook
Keke Palmer
Kim Kardashian
Lake Bell
Laura Ramsey
Leelee Sobieski
Leven Rambin
Lisa Kelly
Lisalla Montenegro
Lindsay Montenegro
Lindsay Clubine
Lizzy Caplan
Mary Kate Olsen
Meagan Good
Megan Boone
Michelle Keegan
Mikayla Pierce
Misty Treanor
Nick Hogan
Nina Stavris
Rachel Nichols
Sarah Shahi
Sahara Ray
Sarah Schneider
Scarlette Johansson
Shannon McNally
Tameka Jacobs
Teresa Palmer
Vanessa Hudgens
Victoria Justice
Wailana Geisen
Wynona Ryder

Search Interest

External References

[1]Reddit – /r/thefappening (Warning: NSFW Content)

[2]Twitter – @Boogie29888

[3]Twitter – @McKayla Maroney

[4]Mashable – Jennifer Lawrence and Other Celebs Hacked as Nude Images Circulate on the Web

[5]Reddit – /r/TheFappening

[6]Twitter – @M_E_Winstead

[7]Twitter – @VictoriaJustice

[8]The Daily Mail – I am not behind this

[9]AnonIB – Anonymous Image Board

[10]Reddit – Lets make this a worthwhile endeavour

[11]Reddit – Awesome! This makes me laugh and feel good

[12]NBC News – #IfMyPhoneGotHacked: Alleged Nude Photo Hack Triggers Twitter Trend

[13]Dailymail – #Ifmyphonegothacked: Twitter hashtag finds funny side of celebrity photo hacking scandal

[14]Huffington Post – Celebrity Phone Hacking Prompts #IfMyPhoneGotHacked Trend

[15]The Daily Dot – #IfMyPhoneGotHacked exposes Twitter’s deep-seated privacy fears

[16]Twitter – #IfMyPhoneGotHacked

[17]PCF News – Prostate Cancer Foundation Response Statement To Reddit Post

[18]Business Insider – Waterorg doesnt want reddits fundraised money

[19]The Daily Beast – The Fappening and Revenge Porn Culture

[20]Vice – The Fappening Has Revealed a New Type of Pervert

[21]r/TumblrInAction – Oh Gawker Media. You so silly.

[22]Reddit Blog – Every Man is Responsible for His Own Soul

[23]Reddit – Every Man is Responsible for his own soul

[24]Reddit – Time to Talk

[25]TechTimes – Google: Many Celebgate photos removed within hours of request. Internet is ‘for many good things’

[26]Billboard – Celebs Threaten Google With $100 Million Lawsuit Over Leaked Nude Photos

[27]Apple – Update to Celebrity Photo Investigation

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