Between Augusts 31, 2014 and early September, an unusual event occurred. Almost 500 private pictures of celebrities, mostly women, were exposed. Most of the pictures included nudity. The pictures were posted on the imageboard, 4chan and the later found their way to other social networks and websites such as Reddit, Imgur, and Tumblr. It is believed that the images were obtained through a breach of iCloud. The event was not just a breach of privacy of the celebrities but was also an event that questioned the integrity of iCloud. However, iCloud reported that the breach was out of targeted account breaches rather than any specific security vulnerability.
The Fappening, as the event was described, is derived from the pun word 'fap', which is slang for masturbation. It was believed that following the releases, there was numerous users masturbating to the nude pictures, thus The Fappening. There was a general outcry on criticism over the release of the pictures. It was clearly a breach of the privacy of the celebrities whose pictures were exposed. However, there were also concern over the integrity and authenticity of some of the pictures from other quarters. Some of the pictures were edited to impose nudity on pictures that were not explicit.
The leak made a major dent on cloud storage specifically iCloud. The leak prompted increased concern over the safety of not just pictures but other private and confidential information that are stored in the Cloud. While other quarters felt that the analysis that are involved in the manning of the cloud would have had a hand in the leaks, Apple assured the public that these were targeted attacks. This position was not believed being that the leak was within a specific time and affected a huge number of celebrities. Among the celebrities that were affected included the following
Contents of the leaks
Jennifer Lawrence - 60 explicit photos,
Kate Upton and her boyfriend,
Victoria Justice - claimed that the photos posted were fake,
Krysten Ritter - she did not comment on the photos.
On the other hand, McKayla Maroney - the Olympic gymnasts initially called the photos fake but later changed the story when she obtained a letter that she was under the age of 18 and her photos would not be used as porn.
Mary E. Winstead - she took her reaction to twitter shaming those people who went down to look at photos that they she took with her husband for pleasure. She indicated that the photos were already deleted from her phone and were definitely derived from the cloud.
Becca Tobin - the glee actress tried to make a joke out of the photos when she tweeted Merry XXXmas in response to the leaks.
Ariana Grande - the “Bang Bang” singer denied that the pictures posted on websites were her pictures. She claimed that her petite body was much cuter than the leaked photos.
Kirsten Dunst - she had some of the most graphic pictures leaked. She pointed out that the FBI are investigating the incident.
Melissa Benoist - reacted to the leaks by posting a “Ted Talk Video” informing viewers why they should only view sites that they trust.
Yvonne Strahovski - she denied that the photos were her photos.
Lea Michele - remained quiet over the incidence.
Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting - of “Big Bang Theory” appeared to make a joke over the leak by posting her photo and that of her husband on Instagram that appeared to show them nude.
Ali Michael - hade more than 100 photos leaked. However, he did not comment on the leaks.
Brie Larson - was also affected in the leaks. She did not react to the leaks.
Jessica Brown-Findlay - ex boyfriend reacted saying that it was a massive breach of privacy.
Other celebrities who were affected include Teresa Palmer, Kim Kardashian, Hope Solo, Lake Bell, Avril Lavigne, Vanessa Hudgens, Leelee Sobieski, Mary-Kate Olsen, Hayden Panettiere, and Gabrielle Union.
How the photos were passed
Before the public release on Augusts 31, the photos were passed privately for a number of weeks. Emerging details point out that there were more unreleased photos and video exist. The photos were alleged to have been obtained through the online storage that is offered by iCloud platform that enables users to automatically back up their photos from their devices. Apple reported that phishing and brute force guessing rather than hacking were used to obtain private information of the affected individuals leading to the leaks. The leaks were then released image boards, 4chan, and Anon-IB in exchanged for Bitcoin. The images were then distributed across the internet.
On Reddit, a subreddit was created that allowed the sharing of the photos. This link received 100,000 of followers following the release of the photos. After that, the photos floated everywhere with other sites posting the leaks photos. The photos were mostly distributed across porn websites. They attracted a lot of traffic towards these websites.
On September 20th, a second batch of photos were released. The release was tagged “The Fappening 2.” It is not clear whether these photos were from the earlier batch or they were the result of new hacks. While media were still buzzing with the news of the leaked photos, a thirds batch tagged “The Fappening 3,” was released a week later on September 26th. More private photos were put to the public as more violation of privacy was experience. Unending chains of the photos have continued to connect on the internet. While iCloud has not given satisfactory response to the event, users of the facility have become more cautions with what they post or allow to upload into the cloud.
They say the internet never forgets. It always remembers. For the images of the victims to be completely wiped off the internet, it will take a lot more than you would imagine. It would take lawsuits after lawsuits over a chain of pictures that will be shared across various websites. Every other porn website will desire to have a picture of a celebrity nude to drive traffic to the site. While this may be viewed as immoral and insensitive, to some people, it is business and they will not consider the morality behind it. Who is to blame? Every finger points at Apple and of course imageboard and 4chan even as some view them as heroes.