As some of you might have noticed, we’ve previously covered the infamous website which leaked many celebrity nudes over the years; the Fappening. But we realised that we had only scratched the surface, and that there actually is much more to the revolting world of nudes hacking.
For those of you who need a reminder of what fappening means, it is a portmanteau of the words ‘happening’ and ‘fap’ where fap means to masturbate and happening, well, you get the gist of it. The website thefappening.com came about because of a group of four hackers who leaked hundreds of naked photographs of celebrities and then sold them in exchange for bitcoins on image sharing sites like 4chan and Reddit. The cheek, huh?
More than half a decade later—how are those celebrities holding up?
Actress Jennifer Lawrence was one of the first celebrities to be targeted after many of her private pictures were hacked from her iCloud. It took her some time to open up to the press about the incident, and by following her trail of comments over the years, it understandably looks like it affects her still.
Back in 2014, Lawrence unleashed her anger in an interview with Vanity Fair, “Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this,” she said. “It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world.”
After filming the 2018 film Red Sparrow, when the actress went nude for a role for the first time, Lawrence admitted that it “scared the hell” out of her, but she went ahead with it with the intention of claiming back what she had stolen from her in the 2014 hack. It was her choice, as an actress, to continue to work professionally.
She brought to light that the nature of the images that were leaked were actually pretty standard, in context. Lawrence had been in a long-distance relationship at the time the pictures were taken, she stated that “either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.” Fair enough.
Lawrence said it was hard to come to terms with the fact that someone could just pull out the nude photos at any given moment—and with her level of fame, it means the whole world is that someone. She expressed that she felt like she had gotten “gang-banged by the fucking planet!”
The hackers, Ryan Collins, Edward Majerczyk, Emilio Herrera and George Garofano all plead guilty to felony hacking and the violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Each of them gained access to Lawrence’s accounts through phishing—sending their targets fake password reset links.
The list of celebrities who got hacked that same year and got their nudes stolen was predominantly made up of female stars including Rihanna, Kate Upton, Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian, Cara Delevingne, Kate Upton and many more.
A lot of women affected by the hack approached Lawrence about potentially suing Apple, among other sites that allowed for this to happen, but the actress said that she had no intention in doing so and was just interested in healing. Privacy on the internet turns out to be a bit of a double-edged sword, as Apple made it clear after the hack took place, that they were not to blame. It was her that took action, and followed the hackers prompts into updating her iCloud account details.
As TechCrunch pointed out, Apple offers two-factor authentication. iCloud backups, however, are not protected by two-factor authentication and can be installed on new devices with just an Apple ID and password. “Your email and password are as much protection as almost any service on earth offers you by default—and once a hacker obtains those you’re probably in trouble in any case.”
Celebrities aren’t the only victims of iCloud hacking, according to Business Insider: “There’s an entire message board on a site called AnonIB dedicated to ‘iCloud rippers’ who apparently use similar techniques to steal nude photos from random women. This was going on long before nude photos of celebrities leaked.” And it must be considered that hacking is not exclusive to Apple, either.
Even though Apple has its reasons to defend the loophole that is available for hackers to take advantage of, it is still considered victim-blaming, and although these celebrities have, in some aspects, volunteered to be seen under a public lens, these images were made public without their consent, and maintain their right to a private life. In many cases, what we reveal about ourselves on the internet can very rarely be deleted later. Nudes hacking and leaking is something we all share with these celebrities, and it’s something to keep in mind always.
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.”