The Threat To Leak Nude Photos Of Emma Watson Was Actually A Twisted Hoax

At first, seen as a backlash against Emma for her powerful speech at UN, it now appears the whole stunt was just that: a stunt!

After Emma Watson delivered a speech at the United Nations on 20 September about gender equality, there were reports that 4chan users threatened to leak nude photos of Emma on a site called Here's the full background story:

Well, the whole thing actually turned out to be a viral marketing stunt by a site calling itself Rantic Marketing. Rantic is claiming that it wants to shutdown 4chan, but, as Mashable reports, the "social media marketing enterprise" may itself just be a hoax.

The original website surrounding the false leaks,, threatened to release nude photographs of the 24-year-old actress and included a clock counting down to Saturday at midnight ET. The person who posted the website said it was in retaliation for Watson's well-received speech that she gave at the United Nations on Sept. 20.

However, by midnight on Wednesday, the URL redirected to Rantic Marketing's website. Watson's face and the countdown clock has been replaced with a banner that says, "#shutdown4chan" and an open letter to President Barack Obama that claims celebrity publicists hired the marketing company to popularize a call for Internet censorship and the end of 4chan.

Initially, the threats were reportedly posted on the anonymous, forum-based website 4chan, which was previously the center of previous celebrity photo hacks. An earlier version of Rantic's website claimed to have worked with such companies as McDonald's and Rockstar Games. Mashable has reached out to those companies for comment.

While an attempt by Mashable to reach out to Rantic via the email address on Rantic's website failed, Business Insider attributes Rantic to "the most notorious gang of pranksters on the Internet"

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When the countdown came to an end, the site redirected to the website of a company named Rantic Marketing, which appears to be a viral marketing agency. But here's where this gets really interesting: Rantic Marketing doesn't exist. This wasn't a marketing stunt at all, but a social experiment run by the most notorious gang of pranksters on the internet.

Visitors to the homepage of fake company Rantic Marketing are met with a striking message calling on the US government to shut down anonymous message board 4chan, the site widely blamed for spreading the leaked celebrity photographs that emerged after the iCloud hack.

In an open letter addressed to Barack Obama, Rantic states:

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The smartly designed website goes on to plead with readers to join them in shutting down 4chan, stating that "together we can make a change." Rantic Marketing's website also features a strongly worded open letter, addressing President Obama, that claims the company was hired by celebrity publicists in an effort to limit the damage caused by the iCloud photo leak.

Rantic lists "Brad Cockingham" as its CEO and founder

A search by SAYS to find further information regarding that name returned in a YouTube account under the same name. The YouTube account carries a single video uploaded on 24 September, claiming to be an explicit video of Aubrey Plaza, an American actress and comedian.

According to Business Insider, website is another stunt, just like the fake Emma countdown timer. Rantic Marketing is a fake company run by a gang of prolific Internet spammers used to quickly capitalise on Internet trends for page views.

Rantic itself doesn't actually exist, but is instead the work of the prolific pranksters behind another countdown hoax. Made up of people who go by the names Jacob Povolotski, Yasha Swag, Swenzy, and Joey B, the group is occasionally referred to as "Social VEVO."

Last year, Social VEVO ripped copyrighted materials from Fox and created a similar countdown clock that promised to reveal information about Brian from Family Guy. That, too, was a hoax.

As New York Magazine points out, convincing the Internet that anonymous men would punish women with sexual and violent threats turns out to be remarkably easy, and that's because it's completely within the realm of possibility

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The fake Rantic expertly manipulated the internet outrage cycle, not because the mainstream media “listen[s] and believe[s] the feminist victimization narrative,” as one particularly obnoxious Reddit user put it, but precisely because women are regularly victimized online. Povolotski and team also managed to take advantage of 4chan’s terrible reputation and turn it against them: Of course 4chan would punish an outspoken feminist by publishing her nudes, people thought. That’s what 4chan does.

In the end, for Watson, the threat still existed, even if it didn't come from 4chan, and the message was clear: Speak out as a woman about gender equality and you'll be punished. In this way, Rantic's actions are almost as indefensible as 4chan's. Both compounded the feeling that women are not safe on the internet.

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