Before the massive Sony cyber-attack pried the doors off the inner workings of a Hollywood studio, the privacy of dozens of actresses, singers and models like Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Kirsten Dunst was similarly violated after their iCloud accounts were infiltrated, resulting in scores of leaked nude photos spread across the web. As one of the most trafficked sites on the internet, Reddit – which freely shared the leaked photos in a sub-forum dubbed “The Fappening” – was viewed as assisting in the dispersal of these illegal photos, drawing criticism to a website that had recently received a venture capital bump of $50 million.
“I really want to believe that as we enter the next 10 years of Reddit life, essentially the most trafficked media site on the Internet, the opportunity here to set a standard for respecting the privacy of our users,” Reddit’s co-founder and executive chairman Alexis Ohanian told the Times.
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Following the celebrity nude leak, which Lawrence called a “sexual violation,” the Digital Millenium Copyright Act necessitated the closure of sub-Reddits that were exchanging the photos. “While current U.S. law does not prohibit linking to stolen materials, we deplore the theft of these images and we do not condone their widespread distribution,” Reddit’s chief executive Yishan Wong wrote in a blog post following the Fappening.
“We uphold the ideal of free speech on Reddit as much as possible not because we are legally bound to, but because we believe that you – the user – have the right to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, and that it is your responsibility to do so.”