Many U.K. publications are reporting that the former Harry Potter actress had multiple personal photos stolen and posted online. Her team insists that none of them are nude photos, as was initially rumoured to be the case.
“Photos from a clothes fitting Emma had with a stylist a couple of years ago have been stolen,” confirmed a spokesperson for Watson to The Telegraph. “They are not nude photographs. Lawyers have been instructed and we are not commenting further.”
The pictures in question were allegedly posted to the “dark web” — the part of the internet only accessible by means of special software, thus the logical home for illegal activity — and message board 4Chan on late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning. (The 4Chan post was supposedly posted anonymously, which automatically deletes itself after a brief period of time.)
As of this writing, nothing remains of the original postings, if they ever existed in the first place. A Reddit thread previously discussing the hack is now a page of deleted comments. (Global News cannot verify the existence of “dark web” postings.)
People on the Reddit thread and on Twitter (as you can see below) insisted that they’d seen the photos of Watson, alongside nude pictures of actress Amanda Seyfried.
This isn’t the first time Watson, 26, was the target of hackers. A notable outspoken feminist, Watson is a tempting goal for hackers seeking to do harm to her career, especially right before the release of blockbuster movie Beauty and the Beast, which opens on Friday.
In 2014, 4Chan users posted a countdown, threatening to post naked photos of Watson when the time ran out. One commenter at the time said, “She makes stupid feminist speeches at UN, and now her nudes will be online.”
In the end, it all turned out to be a hoax — for Watson, anyway.
“I knew it was a hoax, I knew the pictures didn’t exist, but I think a lot of people that were close to me knew gender equality was an issue but didn’t think it was that urgent, that it was a thing of the past,” said Watson at the time. “And then when they saw that the minute I stood up talking about women’s rights I was immediately threatened, I think they were really shocked. My brother was particularly upset.”
“The minute I stepped up and talked about women’s rights I was immediately threatened — within less than 12 hours I was receiving threats.”
That same year, multiple female celebrities had personal photos stolen and circulated online, and many of them were nudes. Jennifer Lawrence, Gabrielle Union, Kirsten Dunst and Kate Upton, among others, said that their private pictures were leaked.
Watson was recently the recipient of backlash after she wore a scandalous top in a Vanity Fair spread. Many critics said it was odd for a proponent of feminism to wear overly revealing clothing.
Watson admits she’s “confused” and “quietly stunned” by the criticism.
“It just always reveals to me how many misconceptions and what a misunderstanding there is about what feminism is,” she said during an interview with Reuters.
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“Feminism is about giving women choice, feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with — it’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my t*ts have to do with it. It’s very confusing,” she added.
With files from ET Canada