The Snappening: What is 4chan's latest scandal – and is the Snapchat 'leak' a hoax?

Snapchat users told to expect no further photo leaks in anonymous post on Saturday

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The Independent Online

Fears over whether thousands of naked videos and images sent via Snapchat could be leaked this weekend remain shrouded in confusion.

On Friday, an anonymous 4chan user claimed he or she had obtained 200,000 images from the messaging service and that they would be released in an event branded the "Snappening".

Although one poster said that the leak would take place once all the images had been collected into a database, others have claimed that the event is a hoax set up to spread viruses.

On Saturday, an anonymous post on 4chan – an image-sharing website responsible for releasing hundreds of naked images of celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence – published by an individual claiming responsibility for the hacking, said that no further photos would be uploaded. However, it is unclear whether the photos are genuine, or if the poster is even behind the leak.

The poster claims the leaks are "an invasion of privacy" and "will aid no one and hurt us in the end".

The leaks were first brought to wider attention by Kenny Withers, a self-confessed "Snappening" expert, who has since written on his blog that he believes there are more revelations in the pipeline and that the latest scandal is not a hoax.

Jennifer-Lawrence.jpg
The Oscar-winning actress has won new admirers by branding the hack a 'sex crime'

 

Withers claims that emails from show they have plans to establish a website where anyone can search for the leaked photos by a Snapchat username and have set a deadline of Sunday within which to publish them.

Dubbed the "Snappening", it is alleged that roughly 200,000 Snapchat accounts have been compromised, with the images thought to have been taken from Snap Save, a third-party app which saved the normally self-destructing photos without informing the sender.

Ordinarily, if a photo is saved through Snapchat the sender will be alerted, but Snap Save stores all images and does not send any notifications.

The current scandal recalls last month's "Fappening", when naked pictures of celebrities were posted to 4chan. Lawrence, the most prominent target, told Vanity Fair last week: “It’s not a scandal. It is a sex crime.”

While there had been fears that many of the photos would be explicit and of children, as around half of Snapchat's 4.6 million users are aged between 13 and 17, the anonymous poster claims this is not the case and wrote:

"The majority of these images are of normal every day activities; walking to school, showing off your new haircut or cooking a meal."

Snapchat strenuously denies responsibility for the leak and has issued a statement that said: "We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks.

"Snapchatters were victimized by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we expressly prohibit in our Terms of Use."

The data breach is not the first to affect Snapchat users. In January this year the usernames and phone numbers of 4.6 million accounts were hacked and briefly posted online.

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