The news: If you thought 4chan, the anonymous message board originally responsible for disseminating the stolen nude celebrity photos earlier this month, couldn't get any more disgusting, think again.
Business Insider reports that a 4chan user has created a countdown website threatening to post nude, private photos of Emma Watson in response to her recent U.N. speech extolling feminism and calling on men and boys to join the cause to promote gender equality.
The website, ominously titled "Emma You Are Next," features a photo of Watson wiping away a tear, a countdown clock and the 4chan logo followed by the words "never forget, the biggest to come thus far." Based on the countdown clock, the anonymous user is threatening to release the content Friday at midnight.
Though there's no explicit mention of what will be released, based on the recent slew of stolen nude celebrity images and videos, as well as a second batch that surfaced this past weekend, it would seem that the threat is in that same vein.
Is this real? Potentially, but there's also a good chance it's not. On the one hand, we've recently seen that Apple's iCloud technology may not be as secure as once thought, and given the fact that photos of major celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian and Kate Upton were hacked and stolen, it's clear anyone could be a target.
However, as Business Insider points out, these kinds of threats and countdown clocks are unfortunately commonplace and often come from websites like 4chan. And given the amount of media coverage 4chan has enjoyed in the weeks since the initial leaks, this may just be a ploy to capitalize on that attention by exploiting the public's mixed fear, interest and disgust in these leaks.
But that's beside the point: Real or not, this is a disgusting and reprehensible move by this anonymous 4chan user. It shouldn't take much arguing to convince anyone that these kinds of actions are wrong, illegal and terrible — though Lena Dunham did a pretty good job:
And what's worse is that the anonymous 4chan user thought this was an appropriate response to Watson's call for gender equality:
"I want men to take up this mantle so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human, too and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves.
"Men, I would like to give this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too."
To call this ironic is an understatement. The newest threat flies in the face of what Watson talked about and advocated for and goes in the against change the world desperately needs. As Salon's Jenny Kutner points out, "Because when the Internet responds to a woman's declaration of feminism by threatening to commit a crime against her — to violate and victimize her — it only strengthens the message she's sending."
We can all hope this is just a big hoax, but at this point the damage is done. You know what, Internet? You can be a real dick sometimes.