The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

How serial hoaxers duped the Internet with fake 4Chan threats against Emma Watson


This week’s installment of “everything is terrible” was seemingly brought to you by the much maligned anonymous shock post site 4Chan.

The Washington Post and many other news organizations reported that users on the site were apparently threatening to release private photos of actress Emma Watson to retaliate against her for her feminist U.N. speech promoting the new initiative HeForShe.

A site,, featured a countdown clock ticking down to the moment that photos of Watson, which as we pointed out on Tuesday may or may not have even existed, would be released.

Turns out, it was all a hoax within an hoax.

A “company” Rantic Marketing, began redirecting the Watson site to another Web site and replaced the countdown clock at midnight on Wednesday morning with a new message: #Shutdown4Chan

“We have been hired by celebrity publicists to bring this disgusting issue to attention,” the company wrote in a “letter” to President Obama posted on the new site. “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,” it continued.

But it gets far more bizarre.

Business Insider reports that “Rantic Marketing” doesn’t actually exist, and it is the latest front for a group of somewhat notorious Internet hoaxers:

Rantic Marketing is a fake company run by a gang of prolific internet spammers used to quickly capitalize on internet trends for page views. The group go by a variety of different names. Collectively, they’re known as SocialVEVO, but as the Daily Dot reports, their names are alleged to include Jacob Povolotski, Yasha Swag, Swenzy and Joey B. The only known video footage of the group is a rap song about pickles that they used dubious spam techniques to make incredibly popular. The song used to have over 8 million views on YouTube.

Reddit users, many of whom are unsurprisingly incensed by the hoax, also point out that at least dozens of tweets sent out about the issue were virtually identical — some identical translations of the same message — suggesting that at least some of the organic ferment of support touted by Rantic may have been bought and paid for.

And the original “news” of this site first appeared on the fake news Web site “Fox Weekly.”

The truth is, the morally bankrupt landscape that is 4Chan is well-documented. And the real actions of its users probably don’t need another hoax to make them more deserving of condemnation — particularly when it comes to the dissemination of stolen, private photos of women.