What is the Fappening? A guide to the nude photo scandal that shook the celebrity world
In 2014, a celebrity iCloud hack hit the headlines that was quickly dubbed “The Fappening”. The leak consisted of hundreds of private, often explicit, images of celebrities and actors – mostly women – and was feverishly shared across websites and social networks such as 4Chan, Reddit and Tumblr.
At the time, it was also known as “Celebgate”, however the crude portmanteau of “fap”, a slang term for masturbation, and “happening”, resulted in the popular online slogan we have today.
Numerous celebrities were impacted in the leak, the most famous of which included Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, Cara Delevingne and Selena Gomez.
As the phenomenon took hold, many outlets rushed to report on the news – often unethically.
By September, Reddit was forced to take action due to the quick spread of the images – some of which may have included celebrities who were underage at the time they were taken. The website banned a “Fappening” subreddit and continued to shut down related topics as they appeared.
It stated: “After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the internet.”
At the same time, celebrities continued to highlight the invasiveness of the leak. Lawrence, known for a slew of Hollywood performances, spoke passionately about how it impacted her personally. “Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this,” she said.
The next year, law enforcement started to see results. In June 2015, federal agents stormed a home in Chicago and seized a number of computers. One investigator said at the time one of the computers was used to process “nude and sexually explicit photographs of dozens of female celebrities.”
Fast forward to 2017, and another scandal shows signs of emerging as 26-year-old Emma Watson, star of films including Harry Potter and Beauty and the Beast, is rumoured to have been impacted in a fresh series of leaked nude images – speculation her representatives have denied.
Nevertheless, the slogan stuck, with outlets immediately deeming the leak “Fappening 2.0”.