Celebgate: Two Methodological Approaches to the 2014 Celebrity Photo Hacks

  • Rebecca Fallon
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9089)


On August 31st, 2014, nearly 500 sensitive images captured from the mobile phones of various celebrities were released onto With alarming alacrity, these stolen personal photographs made their way to slightly more mainstream content sites, including Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter. Internet users and media respondents have termed the phenomenon “Celebgate” or, more popularly and vulgarly, “The Fappening” (a portmanteau between ‘happening’ and ‘fap’—slang for masturbation). The leak raised numerous questions about privacy rights online, iCloud security, and the responsibilities of host sites. This paper will examine two research designs for the study of this viral content; the first considers the leak structurally and examines the relationship between search terms and centralization of information, the second considers the leak morally and questions variation in the relationship between the purported morality of a website and those of its users. This is primarily an exploratory methodological paper; and the sensitivity of the topic brings its own limitations to the types of data a researcher can ethically and practically capture.


Search Privacy Viral 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oxford Internet InstituteOxfordUK

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