Celeb Photo Hacking Fallout: Reddit Bans Forums Where Pics Surfaced

Jennifer Lawrence
Reddit has banned the forums where the leaked nude photos of female celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton surfaced. Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images

As you've heard by now, the online accounts of several A-list female celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Kirsten Dunst (among many others), were hacked and sexually provocative images of the stars were posted to the Web.

Originally the photos were posted to 4chan, an online bulletin board. The images were then uploaded to reddit, the popular message board that bills itself as the front page of the Internet. Reddit's reputation is similar to that of an online Switzerland — the site's administrators don't often take sides and tend to let the community sort things out for itself.

Which makes the site's decision to ban the photos of the hacked celebrities all the more noteworthy. In an extensive blog post titled "Time to Talk," a reddit employee identified as "alienth" explained the site's decision to remove the illegally obtained images..

Alienth writes that reddit hasn't changed its policies. Its decision to take down the photos was based on existing policies, namely ones that require the site to take down images and content that are against the law and/or violates any of reddits internal rules.

Some reddit users wondered, why the site banned the photos of the celebrities while not banning others. Calling the circumstances "extreme," alienth wrote, the "images which were DMCAd [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] were continually being reposted constantly on the subreddit. We would takedown images (thumbnails) in response to those DMCAs, but it quickly devolved into a game of whack-a-mole."

In a separate blog, a Reddit community manager explained that the subreddit with the celebrity photos was "banned for a number of reasons," including the fact that as soon as moderators would remove images, another user would re-post them.  Additionally, according to the blog, users were "rehosting the images on pay-per-click sites that spread malware."

CEO Yishan Wong wrote that Reddit expects users to be responsible for themselves. Apparently, such lofty ambitions can sometimes backfire.

In the wake of the scandal, several of the affected celebrities issued statements condemning the breach of privacy. A representative for Lawrence told The Insider with Yahoo, "This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence."

Upton's lawyer Lawrence Shire issued a statement calling the hack "an outrageous violation of our client Kate Upton's privacy." He continued, “We intend to pursue anyone disseminating or duplicating these illegally obtained images to the fullest extent possible." 

Other hacked celebs took to Twitter to express their outrage. Mary Elizabeth WInstead (Scott Pilgrim vs the World) wrote, "To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves."

The hacking is currently under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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