Threats by internet 'trolls' to release nude photographs of actress Emma Watson have been described as an an elaborate hoax.
The threat to reveal the pictures emerged on a website EmmaYouAreNext.com, but it appears that the whole furore was nothing more than a hoax, albeit a pretty intricate one, by a group of prolific internet spammers going under the false moniker of "Rantic Marketing".
The website, which displayed a countdown timer and an image of Emma Watson's crying face, felt very different to the original iCloud leak that hit celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, and yesterday revealed itself to be fake.
Redirecting to the supposed "campaign website" rantic.com, the site claims to have all been a hoax designed to draw attention to the threat of the internet forum 4chan, where hackers claimed to have the hacked videos of the actresses.
But Rantic Marketing doesn't actually seem to exist, to judge by its Twitter account.
"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 tweeted, perhaps hoping that the media would cover the hoax as an anti-4chan campaign.
But the Emma Watson leak is not real, nor is the anti-4chan campaign
The threat to release illegally obtained photos of Emma Watson, a Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, came after she launched the "HeForShe" gender equality campaign this week.
Rantic Marketing was previously the source of rumours that the PC release of Grand Theft Auto V had been cancelled and also behind the 'message from Brian Griffin' countdown site that promised news on the 'Family Guy' character's return from the dead.
Whoever is behind "Rantic" also appears to be involved with FoxWeekly (no affiliation with Fox News), a fake news site used to disseminate these hoaxes and to achieve millions of hits from internet users. (© Independent News Service)