Sadly, unauthorized nude photos of celebrities will always break the internet — and stars including Miley Cyrus and Kristen Stewart, and exes Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn, have found themselves the latest victims of a hack.
Three years after Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton were among the victims of an iCloud hacking dubbed the “Fappening” and “Celebgate,” a new host of A-list stars seem to be finding their privacy being violated — in the most extreme way possible — as personal photos allegedly belonging to them, showing them nude or in sexually explicit situations, have been splashed across the internet. Here’s what we know so far:
What are the pix of? They appear to show the celebrities naked and sometimes engaged in sexual activity. It’s important to note, however, that the legitimacy of the photos posted on the website is still in question. So far, Vonn is the only one who has spoken about it publicly while there are reports that Woods, Stewart, and McPhee have their lawyers on the case.
Where were the photos posted? Celebrity Jihad, which boasts the tagline “explosive celebrity gossip from Islamic extremists,” ran the graphic photos, which were reportedly stolen from stars’ phones.
What the stars are doing about it: Calling their lawyers. Exes Vonn and Woods, whose pictures are reportedly from when they dated, have both vowed legal action. According to TMZ, McPhee and Stewart’s lawyers also have threatened to sue the website if it doesn’t remove photos of the stars immediately. FYI, whoever snapped the pictures owns photo rights, so in most cases, the stars themselves own the photos and they can’t be distributed in any fashion, because it violates copyright laws.
What the stars have said about the hack so far: Vonn, whose phone had nude photos of herself as well as pictures Woods sent her of himself when they were together, called the law-breaking hack a “despicable invasion of privacy.” In a statement to People, her rep said, “Lindsey will take all necessary and appropriate legal action to protect and enforce her rights and interests. She believes the individuals responsible for hacking her private photos as well as the websites that encourage this detestable conduct should be prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law.” (Vonn and Woods’s relationship ended in 2015, and she has been dating former Los Angeles Rams assistant coach Kenan Smith since last year.) We’re sure the other victims will end up commenting on the hack publicly as things play out.
Is this the next Fappening/Celebgate? In August 2014, approximately 500 stolen photos, also sexually explicit in nature, of stars including Lawrence, Upton, Kaley Cuoco, Kirsten Dunst, and Jessica Brown Findlay were posted on 4chan and quickly spread across the internet. Lawrence spoke out about being victimized soon after in an interview with Vanity Fair, calling it a “sex crime” and saying, “I can’t even describe to anybody what it feels like to have my naked body shoot across the world like a news flash against my will. It just makes me feel like a piece of meat that’s being passed around for a profit.”
In March 2016, Ryan Collins, a 36-year-old from Lancaster, Pa., pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, which resulted in an 18-month sentence stemming from the case. Nearly a year later, in January 2017, Edward Majerczyk, a 28-year-old from Chicago working independently of Collins, also pleaded guilty to a similar phishing scheme. Majerczyk did not post the photos online, but he was sentenced to nine months in prison.