Okay, it might have been almost six years ago (yes, 2014 was six years, ago how mad is that?), but the fappening is still a heavily trending search word on Google and, quite frankly, for those of us who were not yet in our full active online selves more than half a decade ago, and who have no idea what the fappening is, we’re here to explain it to you, once and for all.
The fappening, also known as TheFappening or Celebgate, refers to the hacking and leaking of hundreds of nude photos of over 100 celebrities, including most notoriously Jennifer Lawrence and Rihanna back in 2014.
The images were leaked on the now closed image-sharing forum 4chan as well as Reddit and once published on the forums, which attract millions of users every month, tracing and deleting the images from the web became a messy, legally challenging and difficult task.
The man behind the leaked photos hacked into celebrities’ iCloud accounts by sending phishing emails to the affected individuals’ Gmail accounts. It is reported that the hacker requested the victims to provide their usernames and passwords using emails that imitated the look and feel of an email from Google or Apple.
Once in, the hacker downloaded hundreds of private photos from these accounts and swiftly published them.
The term fappening is a mashup of two words: the happening, as in what’s happening, and fapping, which is slang for masturbating.
Online, the term fappening refers to a hacker who has illegally accessed nude photos of individuals, oftentimes celebrities, and then leaks them on global forums like 4chan, Reddit and Saidit—at times in exchange for payment, usually cryptocurrency.
Ryan Collins, who was 36-years-old at the time of the Labour Day hack back in 2014, is the Pennsylvania hacker who has pleaded guilty on the count of “unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information.”
Following a trial in 2016, Collins was sentenced to 18 months in prison on account of hacking into more than 600 people’s iCloud accounts.
Unfortunately, the fappening is not a one-off case but a recurring issue of our society—something that systematically affects more women than it does men. More importantly, the laws that protect our privacy, particularly online, are not yet set in place to stop these crimes from happening. And forums are often not responsible for the type of content that is published on their platforms.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Jennifer Lawrence speaks of her experience, saying that “It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime.”
In the past century, the online sex industry has prospered—from ASCII porn, to Twitch streamers and tech dommes, camgirls have reached new heights but also new lows. With the recent emergence of deepfakes, many people are asking themselves what the future of porn, internet security and fake news will look like, and so do I. What measures must we now put into place to mediate this new form of content creation? I decided to venture into the universe of deepfakes, and research its repercussions on the inherently digital realm of cam girls, to see just how much it could change in the coming years.
For the newbies out there, neural networks use algorithms to generate deepfakes that then create imagery based on images they’ve been fed beforehand. Information flows through a neural network in two steps. When it’s learning or operating normally, patterns of information are fed into the network via the input units, which trigger the layers of hidden units, and these, in turn, arrive at the output units.
In this case, these neural networks are being used to accurately replace a person’s face with another, leading to incredibly realistic fake videos. It has become so rampant that there is now a whole category on Pornhub dedicated to falsified content of a plethora of celebrities. While deepnudes don’t affect celebrities that much, as these can easily be found and disproven, they will affect industries where the lines are more blurred, such as camgirling.
My predictions aim to be optimistic, but also acknowledge the potential setbacks of such emotionally detached imagery. From ideas of self-sufficiency to incel uprisings and computer-generated cam girl agencies, let’s have a look at what the rise of deepfakes could mean for the cam girl industry.
1. Camgirls will be able to do everything and anything
As any sex worker will tell you—everyone has their limits as to what they’re ok and not ok with. So what if they could still perform the acts they refuse to do without the physical and emotional labour? Being able to recycle content already online and fulfilling the client’s fantasy could be the answer to many performers wishing to keep a competitive edge. If you didn’t know your camgirl was faking this content, wouldn’t it be a win-win situation?
2. A constant stream of content
Being a camgirl is a full-time job, and the possibility of providing a steady stream of content to your fans could revolutionise the way they make their income. Will we reach an age where your favourite camgirl is always online? And could developments within emotional AI aid not only creating infinite content, but content tailored to you.
3. To use deepnude is also to detect deepnude
Another key aspect of the new deepnudes software is its ability to detect a deepnude, thus also serving as a means for sex workers to counteract content spread using their likeness against their will. This characteristic could potentially aid the mediation of this new software and, hopefully, give back control to those being unrightfully exploited in these images. The software could even hypothetically be integrated into websites where this content might be spread (ex: Pornhub), and limit its unlawful effects.
4. Tech Domme 2.0
Within the tech domme realm, anything that can make the sub/dom experience more vivid and interactive is celebrated. This new software could improve the relationship between tech dommes and clients, offering up new ways to please the submissive slave. This could manifest itself as videos utilizing their face and the dominatrixes’ tactics, bridging the gap between the virtual sphere and reality.
5. Uncanny valley
For some, deepnudes are a way to engage in intimacy without the complexities of human emotion. With the share of men under 30 who haven’t had sex in the past year having tripled, this seems like it could hinder society’s current efforts to combat incel culture and the increasing disdain our generation has towards sex. Will deepnudes steer us toward more automated and primal experiences regarding sex?
6. Computer-generated cam girl agencies
Since Lil Miquela, Imma, Bermuda, and Blawko, the idea of accepting virtual characters into our real lives, seems more legitimate than ever. Computer-generated cam girls could be the next step in the porn industry.
7. Rent my face
Finally, representing the ultimate convergence between infinite post-biological profession and technology, is the concept of patenting your own identity. As we now increasingly value our faces as currency, could we see people selling their rights to their own face to these camgirl agencies? And, will we see retired pornstars such as Jenna Jameson or even Linda Lovelace, making a return to our computer screens?
While these things explore the ability for deepnudes to be used, I stand by the idea that, in a similar way to books, people will still seek out human connections. Rather than the industry becoming obsolete, it will evolve and provide a whole new realm of possibilities for creators and consumers alike. However, just like anything in the rapidly evolving digital realm, the most pressing issue is to have laws and procedures in place so that software can be used respectfully.