Future Tense

The Threat to Leak Nude Photos of Emma Watson Was Actually a Tone-Deaf Internet Hoax

Rantic’s homepage.

Screencap from rantic.com

You’re probably familiar with the speech Emma Watson delivered at the United Nations on Saturday about gender equality. But did you hear that 4chan users threatened to leak nude photos of Watson on a site called EmmaYouAreNext.com? Well, if you’re a little bit behind on this one, don’t worry. It turns out that no one knows what’s going on here.

It now seems that 4chan, the site where a number of nude celebrity photos leaked a few weeks ago, may not actually be behind EmmaYouAreNext.com. When the clock that was supposedly counting down to the photo leak reached midnight Wednesday, the site started redirecting to something called rantic.com. The website features a splash that says #shutdown4chan and seems to be a campaign against the anonymous posting service.


Rantic claims to be a viral marketing firm. In an open letter addressed to Barack Obama, the group states:

We have been hired by celebrity publicists to bring this disgusting issue to attention. The recent 4chan celebrity nude leaks in the past 2 months have been an invasion of privacy and is also clear indication that the internet NEEDS to be censored. Every Facebook like, share & Twitter mention will count as a social signature – and will be one step closer to shutting down www.4chan.org.

But—and this is where it gets really complicated—Rantic isn’t a real company. As Business Insider explains, the people behind the site are part of a spamming ring called SocialVEVO that quickly puts up pages to capture traffic from interesting stories and situations that have already gone viral. The Daily Dot ran a story about the group last winter that documents who is thought to be in it and what their strategies are.


And as New York points out, SocialVEVO created a similar fake countdown clock last year threatening to leak information about Family Guy. Perhaps summing up the situation most succinctly, Reddit user SoefianB notes that “Rantic Media” is an anagram for “Incite Drama.” Sooooo, yeah.

What’s unclear now is whether SocialVEVO members actually want to campaign against 4chan, perhaps to eliminate it as a competing viral content distributor, or whether SocialVEVO members are actually 4chan users themselves who are trying to make it seem like the Internet community won’t stand for 4chan’s misogynist photo leaks and attitudes.

Whatever the goal, Rantic’s site says that its founder and CEO is named Brad Cockingham, so you can’t take it too seriously.