Two months after millions of people around the world took to the streets of their cities to march for women’s rights, we are again reminded why those demonstrations are so important.
Emma Watson and Amanda Seyfried, two actresses who have been vocal about feminist issues in the past, have had private photos targeted by hackers reportedly published on the dark web, and possibly 4chan. A third actress may also have been targeted.
Like the iCloud hacks of 2014, the hack is purposefully targeting high profile women. It is unclear how the hackers stole the images, as yet.
In 2014, Ryan Collins from Pennsylvania, took private photos from 101 celebrity victims – including Jennifer Lawrence and Rihanna – via 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts. He gained access using phishing attacks over a period of two years, sending emails to the accounts from supposedly legitimate sources, such as “[email protected]”. A reminder that any “official” email from a technology company warning of a scam, should be checked directly with the company – never hit reply and never click on a link within that email. Once he gained access, Collins was able to download an entire back of the iCloud accounts. He was ultimately tracked down, prosecuted and in October 2016 sentenced to 18 months in a federal prison.
Beyond the subreddits, we know about the hacks today because Emma Watson has decided to immediately take legal action. A statement from her publicist says: “Photos from a clothes fitting Emma had with a stylist a couple of years ago have been stolen. They are not nude photographs. Lawyers have been instructed and we are not commenting further.”
Details on the legal action were otherwise nonexistent. However, it is likely her team is targeting the portals where the stolen property is being published. A quick Twitter search by WIRED came up with at least one user posting graphic nude videos and photographs of targeted individuals, more than 17 hours ago. WIRED has reported the account for harassment and will update this article if we hear from the social network.
Various tweets and Reddit posts have indicated that the photos, along with allegedly nude photos of Amanda Seyfried and those of other models and actresses, have been published on the dark web. Currently on Reddit, a post entitled “Don’t post leaks” is at the top of a search for Emma Watson, with only one comment in the thread: “Don’t make /u/just-a-traveler use expelliarmus on you, follow the rules.”
When Emma Watson was threatened by hackers in 2014, it immediately followed a speech she gave on women’s rights at the UN as part of her role as a goodwill ambassador. A user on 4chan responded by threatening to post nude images of the actress, setting up a countdown to the ‘event’. The photos never transpired, but the user’s intention was clear. “That feminist b***h Emma is going to show the world she is as much of a whore as any woman,” Dazed reported the user as saying, back in 2015. Another said: “She makes stupid feminist speeches at UN, and now her nudes will be online, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.”
Although Watson does not appear to be the only individual targeted this week, the leaks follow a public ‘controversy’ around the fact the actress posed in a revealing outfit on the cover of Vanity Fair. Apparently, many on the internet believe one cannot exhibit skin and be a feminist, and various Twitter users have accused the actress – who has been a public proponent and supporter women’s rights for years – of hypocrisy. An article posted yesterday, hours before the leaks, pointed out how Amanda Seyfried – who is pregnant with her first child – has spoken out for women’s rights over the years, including addressing the gender wage gap.
By Liat Clark