A site threatening to publish stolen images of Emma Watson this Saturday has been outed as a hoax developed by Rantic Marketing designed to deliver a killer blow to online forum 4Chan where earlier iCloud leaks first emerged.
The site, called Emmayouarenext.com, was branded with the 4Chan logo and issued a vague threat towards Watson which said: "Never Forget, The Biggest To Come Thus Far”.
The threat went viral in the few days since it emerged, receiving substantial media coverage, most of which seemed to wrongly blame 4Chan for the threat.
However, the leak countdown has now stopped and viewers have instead been directed to Rantic Marketing's homepage, where it issued an open letter to the US president pleading with him to take action against 4Chan for its part in the iCloud leaks.
The open letter reads: “Dear Barack Obama, we have been hired by celebrity publicists to bring this disgusting issue to attention. The recent 4chan celebrity nude leaks in the past two months have been an invasion of privacy and is also clear indication that the internet NEEDS to be censored.
“Every Facebook like, share and Twitter mention will count as a social signature - and will be one step closer to shutting down www.4chan.org."
Rantic Marketing also took its attacks to social media, condemning 4Chan on Twitter.
Dear humans, In the digital age we have a new kind of terror going on and it is called 4chan,Help us take down the terrorist group 4chan.
— Rantic (@RanticMarketing) September 24, 2014
4chan is messing with the wrong one, ladies have been suffering, Kids are being exposed to the utterly disturbing content, 4chan IS KILL. — Rantic (@RanticMarketing) September 24, 2014
Shut down 4chan prevent suicides and violence towards women, Support the cause,End the problem! — Rantic (@RanticMarketing) September 24, 2014
Rantic Marketing went to war with 4Chan, allegedly on behalf of some of the celebrities involved in the scandal. The firm claimed that its website was visited by over 48 million people, shared seven million times, with a further three million tweets on Twitter.
However, the stunt has been critisised by many social media users, who said that Rantic Marketing's deception was just as dishonest as the leaks perpetrated by 4Chan users.
On the group's Facebook page one user, called Steven Dixon, said: "So Rantic threatened to leak Emma Watson's nudes in order to frame 4Chan in a coordinated effort to shut the website down and limit freedom on the internet, and you do this under the guise that you're doing a good thing?
"Are you kidding me? Do you not understand how ethically bankrupt that is?"
This follows the 'Fappening' scandal which saw the private images of over 100 celebrities published on 4Chan last month - after their Apple iCloud accounts were hacked.
However, Apple has denied responsibility for the leaks, claiming that the site fell victim to a "very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions".