Home Reddit Shuts Down Stolen Celebrity Photo Forum

Reddit Shuts Down Stolen Celebrity Photo Forum

Within hours of stating it would not shut down one of the major forums sharing nude celebrity photos, Reddit did just that. 

Yishan Wong wrote in a Saturday blog post that the site would not shut down the r/thefappening (where fap is slang for masturbation), one of the major distribution points for the photos, or other questionable forums. 

Reddit removed the stolen celebrity photos soon after the leak, and according to Wong, Reddit’s employees “deplore the theft of these images and we do not condone their widespread distribution,” but was “unlikely to make changes” in spite of that. 

“[W]e consider ourselves … the government of a new type of community. The role and responsibility of a government differs from that of a private corporation, in that it exercises restraint in the usage of its powers.”

See also: Is Reddit Dropping The Ban Hammer On BuzzFeed?

However, Reddit was compelled to recede on its position and ban r/thefappening anyway. “What happened is that we wrote the blog post, and at approximately the same time, activity in that subreddit starting violating other rules we have which do trigger a ban, so we banned it,” Wong explained in an addendum to the blog post.

Predictably, the two events occurring at the same time caused a lot of confusion for Reddit’s users. Reddit employees worked to dispel them in a lengthy Q&A thread

Jason Harvey (aka alienth), Reddit’s senior system administrator, wrote an introduction to the thread where he emphasized “the press and nature of this incident obviously made this issue extremely public, but it was not the reason why we did what we did.” 

However, redditors were skeptical. The top comment brings up another subreddit that featured sexualized images of minors, which Reddit only banned in 2011 after it became CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s pet project. 

“You’re doing the exact same thing you do every time there’s bad press. Deal with it at the last possible moment once there’s bad press forcing you to do so. Then you play it off like some moral revelation and use free speech as the reason why it doesn’t set a precedent.”

See also: 4chan Will Now Remove Awful Images—If They’re Copyrighted

Reddit isn’t the only website attempting to wash its hands of this incident. Forum site 4chan, where the images are rumored to have originated, set up a new Digital Millennium Copyright Act policy page in the wake of the crime. Likewise, the Prostate Cancer Foundation rejected r/thefappenings’ donations to their cause, stating “we would never condone raising funds for cancer research in this manner.”

Photo by Eva Blue

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