A number of days ago, in the wake of the second round of hacked nude celeb photo releases, a website popped up online called EmmaYouAreNext. The site featured nothing but a random picture of actress Emma Watson, a countdown clock that was ticking away, and the words "Never forget. The biggest to come thus far."
There was no indication of what would happen when the counter struck zero, but many online assumed that the site was implying it had nude photos of Watson, and was going to release them when time was up.
Quickly, many of those who had been paying attention to the seemingly continuous release of hacked photos began to speculate that the site was just a hoax meant to attract attention.
The site heavily insinuated, and even outright stated, that it had been a creation of the online messaging board 4chan – where the original celeb nude pics had first been posted. Aside from having 4chan's four-leaf clover logo, the site itself claimed to be "Brought to you by 4chan."
Rumors began to spread that this release was timed specifically as a response to Watson's recent speech, delivered to the UN, that launched the gender equality campaign HeForShe. These rumors went mainstream when a number of news websites picked up the story.
Tonight, at 12am EST, the website finally revealed its true intent: to shut down 4chan using "social signatures", evidently.
The site is the work of the viral marketing firm Rantic, and according to a message on the site, "We have been hired by celebrity publicists to bring this disgusting issue to attention. The recent 4chan celebrity nude leaks in 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 www.4chan.org."
Of course Rantic makes no direct reference to exactly which "celebrity publicists" hired them, nor do they explain how Facebook likes, shares, or Twitter mentions will count as "social signatures." They also don't explain what they mean by "social signature."
"Who is Rantic?" You may be asking yourselves? According to their website, "Rantic is a social media marketing enterprise that has participated in some of the most viral campaigns and music videos."
To be fair, computer savvy Redditors were able to prove conclusively that EmmaYouAreNext was a hoax set up by Rantic almost immediately after the site went live. Many media outlets, however, chose to maintain the narrative that Watson was being targeted by 4chan.
So what has the response been from the internet to this viral marketing stunt? Well, to put it mildly, there isn't a lot of support. Mostly people have been cussing Rantic out on the organization's Facebook page and sending hate filled tweets to them for their advocating of internet censorship.
But, according to the website itself, even this hate mail is a "social signature" that indicates your support for the cause.