Here's Why The Emma Watson Photo Leak Hoax Was A Sneaky Strike Against Women

Heres Why Emma Watson Photo Leak Hoax Was Sneaky Strike Against Women

The Web was bathed in the glorious glow of Emma Watson this past weekend when the 'Harry Potter' actress gave an amazing speech about gender equality at UN Headquarters that had us all cheering. (Let's watch that one more time before we go any further...)

But what the Web giveth, the Web violently -- and depressingly -- taketh away. News that nude photos of the actress would be leaked in retaliation for her eloquent words (because nothing heartfelt goes unpunished) spread from site to site, therefore marring her very-recently won glory. The photos would prove to be a hoax -- the work of a faux marketing company claiming to be working against 4chan -- but the threat behind the whole ordeal is still very real. Photos or no -- the fact remains that a woman spoke out and a woman was punished, rather archaically, by raising the specter of her own sexuality.

The story behind this whole thing is a tangled one -- Buzzfeed did an excellent job of trying to untie all the knots -- but the long and short of it is this...

Early this week, news outlets began to report that 4chan was planning to release nude photos of Watson after she spoke at the UN as the UN Women’s goodwill ambassador and launched her new HeForShe campaign for gender equality. A site titled cropped up with a countdown to the release. That site, however, proved to be a stunt in the end, as it redirects to homepage for a social marketing service called Rantic Marketing. And this is where it gets weird(er).

The site appears to be a rallying cry to shut down 4chan, featuring an open letter to President Obama claiming that Rantic was hired by celebrity publicists to bring recent massive nude leaks to attention and stop them once and for all. Well, that's all well and good, until when you look a little closer. The CEO and founder is listed as 'Brad Cockingham.' And look at this tweet claiming they hope 4chan will 'convert' to feminism. It's not a religion, guy.

I mean, this could all be legit, but somehow doubt eclipses that brief rumination.

Again, this is seriously a 'oh what a tangled Web we weave' kind of deal, but, basically, as Buzzfeed reports, Rantic has previously gone by a plethora of names -- including Swenzy and SocialVevo -- and has pulled these kinds of stunts in the past: one included a Website promising new information following the death of Brian on 'Family Guy,' another, according to The Daily Dot , messed with NASA. Oh, and this guy -- known as Jacob Povolotski -- is apparently involved:

And that's not to mention the phone number we found registered to the owner of a smattering of these sites -- an owner who has been thoroughly doxed on the Web.

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It's a story that is twisted and messed up and probably forks off into myriad directions, as stories involving the Web often do -- but, in the end, it's a sad one. And, frankly, an annoying one.

Whatever Rantic's -- whoever they are -- aims, they succeeded in doing a few things rather well:

1). They detracted from and, in a way, tarnished a sincere effort by Emma Watson to make a difference.

2). Even without any naked photos, they attempted to terrorize and belittle a woman because, basically, she dared to speak out.

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3). They changed the narrative of Emma Watson's UN speech from 'a strong woman fighting for gender equality' to 'let's talk about her body -- where are the boobs?!'

And the sad thing is: That was probably not an accidental outcome. That was probably their aim all along, which I guess is proof, then, of how much initiatives like HeForShe are needed. So it seems we can thank Rantic, sarcasm coating every word, for that.

Related: 7 Emma Watson Moments That Should Inspire Us All