How Rantic PR Fooled the Guardian With Fake Emma Watson Nude Leaks
On September 20th, Emma Watson spoke at the UN about her new campaign on sexism.
You can view the video here.
Shortly after, Fox Weekly (not to be confused with Fox News), published a story that alleged that an “anonymous 4chan hacker” possessed nude photographs of Emma Watson and had created a website which would reveal said photos in several days.
The website EmmaYouAreNext showed a countdown with days, hours and minutes before the time of the release. It also showed a modified image of Emma Watson’s head, as well as the logo of 4chan.
Interestingly, interviews with veteran 4chan users showed that displaying the 4chan logo, as did the website, is highly atypical for any actual 4chan user.
The article on Fox Weekly stated:
EmmaYouAreNext.com is the name of a strange countdown clock website that has originated from 4chan. The site appears to have come from the same leaker who has recently published nude photos of Rihanna and Gabrielle Union. The countdown ends in about 5 days.
We are currently following leads and finding out what exactly is the website about. Social media and forums are speculating that the notorious 4chan is about to leak an Emma Watson sex tape or nude photos.
We still cannot find the person who owns the site and numerous IP address traces come out empty.
Our news staff have reached out to 4chan users to help find the creator of the site.
This all comes after the notorious 4chan hacker leaked nude photos of Rihanna, Vanessa Hudgens, Kim Kardashian and Gabrielle Union on Sunday. The leaker also leaked Jennifer Lawrence nude photos a few weeks ago.
Emma Watson recently gave a strong emotional speech at the United Nations about female equality in politics.
The article claims that the leaker is the same person as the person that leaked the Rihanna and Gabrielle Union photographs. This is a big assumption to make, because the method of dissemination is very different – this time, an entire website has been set up to announce the leaks.
Furthermore, the article claims that “we still cannot find the person who owns the site”. 4chan’s founder, Moot (Christopher Poole), is considered an internet celebrity. He has appeared in-person at numerous conferences and can be easily reached via Twitter and Email.
The story from Fox Weekly was quickly republished by major news outlets, such as the Guardian, The Independent, The Toronto Sun, the BBC, the Telegraph and CNN, who hastily re-published the Fox Weekly story.
However, all outlets appear to have fallen victim to a planned marketing campaign by a PR firm.
What follows is a screenshot of the Apache Server Status for the website www.emmayouarenext.com:
According to the server logs, the emmayouarenext.com website is hosted on the same server as the homepage of a PR company, Rantic Marketing.
What is Rantic? Rantic Marketing is a PR company that utilises viral strategies for its customers. Some customers that Rantic claims to have worked for include Mac Donald’s, the National Aeronautics and Space Association, Steam, Electronic Arts and other important gaming companies.
Another oddity in this case was the barrage of identical tweets that were released within a minute of each other linking directly to the website:
All of the people who tweeted the story are following Rantic Marketing on Twitter. Rantic Marketing rarely make any tweets themselves, but as one 4chan user noted,
“as soon as we started digging they became very active.”
This posses the possibility that Rantic-staff have been monitoring the boards of 4chan.
On September 17th, Rantic posted a tweet thanking Fox Weekly for “the downtime you have caused us by summoning the wrath of 4chan”. This tweet was made 4 days before Emma Watson gave her speech.
(This is pure speculation, but it may be possible that Rantic Marketing, or one of their clients, was caught up in the Gamer Gate scandal and have retorted by creating this fake story and framing it on 4chan.)
It is also noteworthy that Fox Weekly was the first website to report on the emmayouarenext.com website.
The whole affair took a turn when 4chan users discovered that Fox Weekly is not a real news site, but a group of social media manipulators who already have a reputation for their internet hoaxes that drive traffic to their site for advertising revenue.
This group was formerly known as SocialVEVO and was connected to NASA, GTA5, Family Guy (related to Brian’s death hoax) and other companies they have claimed to work for.
We were also unable to contact Rantic, whose website went down around exactly during our research at 2014-09-23 21:55 GMT-5. Attached is a screenshot of the current website, displaying “Maintenance Mode”.
Update at 2014-09-24 23:58 GMT-5
This is a developing story. It appears Rantic is not at all trying to hide the fact that they’re behind the website – the website emmayouarenext.com is part of a larger PR plan against 4chan in response to the nude leaks originating from the very image board. The Rantic website – that was under maintenance for a while, see the screenshot above – is now showing a new website:
The hashtag #shutdown4chan thus belongs to a prepared campaign. The plan appears to have been
- Publicize the emmayouarenext.com website through mainstream media, such as the Guardian, BBC, CNN, etc.
- Leak technical information on 4chan that appear to be exposing the website as the works of a PR firm. These leaks would then be shared by angered internet users, making the rantic.com website temporarily very popular.
- During this popularity, change the rantic.com content to the content of their #shutdown4chan campaign. This would ensure maximum exposure of their campaign and their message, which is as follows:
Update 2014-09-24 00:36 GMT-5
A brilliant reader has submitted the following observation to us by email:
There are actually two possibilities.1. This was all planned by Rantic from the beginning. The idea was, fake a server log leak (I actually didn’t you know you could get to the Apache Status page that easily), get 4channers enraged thinking they’re getting false-flagged by a celebrity PR company, make the enraged 4channers post lots of things on social media pointing to rantic.com, and then switch the content of rantic.com, making 4chan get bad publicity from the views it caused itself.OR2. They just planned the emmayouarenext.com website. They wanted to pretend they are 4chan, so people would turn against bad 4chan that is about to leak again. They screwed up the server logs, and got exposed by a 4channer. Trying to save their skin, they pulled a smart move and pretend this was part of a long planned marketing campaign against 4chan.
However, one of our followers on Twitter claims the Apache server logs are not fake:
So far, his claims could not be verified, but neither could they be confirmed as untrue.
Update 2014-09-24 01:31 GMT-5 – A completely different view – the inside troll job
As you may have noticed by now, most of the attempts to explain Rantic are based on speculation. Nevertheless, we would like to share all possibilities behind the recent events:
Another plausible explanation for Rantic is an inside troll job. No proof has come out so far that there is an actual, professional marketing firm behind the website emmayouarenext.com. In fact, should it be proven that the emmayouarenext.com website was orchestrated by a PR firm, the firm might expose itself to defamation lawsuits. It would have knowingly and willingly publicized the false information that 4chan is guilty of yet another leak. Furthermore, addressing the petition to shut down a particular website to President Obama is equally bizarre, especially since Rantic’s statement also pleads for internet censorship.
Fox Weekly has existed for a longer time, but both Rantic and the emmayouarenext.com website are new creations. It is perfectly possible that those two are the works of a master troll. Another clue for this theory would be the current tweets by @RanticMarketing:
Update 2014-09-24 02:45 GMT-5
Rantic.com appears to have been a record label some eleven years ago:
The original article was made possible thanks to the research of numerous anonymous users of 4chan’s /pol/ board.
Source of the original thread: http://archive.4plebs.org/pol/thread/36272301/