Nude photo threat fuels fire against 4chan

Photo courtesy of David Shankbone

Photo courtesy of David Shankbone

The privacy of many celebrities was violated earlier this summer when nude photographs of many stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian, and Gabrielle Union were posted by anonymous users on 4chan, a bulletin board site where anyone can post pictures and messages. However, the complication did not stop there. After actress Emma Watson, best known by her role in Harry Potter, delivered a passionate speech about gender equality at the United Nations, an anonymous 4chan user threatened to release nude photographs of her online with the phrase: EmmaYouAreNext.

Though the threat was a hoax and no photos were released, nor was there any confirmation that they even existed, the private lives of celebrities and the legality of a 4chan were brought into question, as well as whether the site is using these photos as a sort of blackmail.

“It should be considered illegal,” said Anthony Biddle (12), “because if it were someone who wasn’t famous, it would certainly be considered an intrusion of privacy.”

Biddle is not the only one to share this opinion. Another student who wished to remain anonymous agreed, saying: “Everyone has the right to take whatever photos of themselves that they want. For someone to exploit that, and to use it against them, is illegal and wrong.”

Ben Jabson (12), brought up the impact these photos may have in the private lives of celebrities. “Think of how much personal information, photographs and otherwise, that celebrities divulge.  Yes, it’s certainly not a good thing that this happened, but is it really exploitation of privacy if you’re famous?”

Another serious issue related to the photographs is that they are almost all of female stars, and as Watson was targeted after giving a speech on gender equality, the problem is especially symbolic of society’s portrayal of women.

Kayleigh Anderson (11), feels that this is a problem that must be addressed. “It doesn’t’ seem fair that women are targeted sexually more than men in today’s society. Women’s bodies are not objects and to use over-sexualized photographs as blackmail is an invasion of privacy as well as almost de-humanizing.”

Some are calling for 4chan to be shut down as a result of the picture releases, fueling the fire for those who want internet censorship. The tag #ShutDown4chan was created to protest the site’s refusal to block the anonymous users who posted the nude photographs.  Celebrities, as well as their fans, wrote that they were sorry Emma was being targeted and voiced their wishes to shut down the site so that similar threats could not be made.

Though it seems unlikely that 4chan will be shut down, the scam has raised awareness about internet censorship and sparked discussion about what should or should not be allowed to be online.