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Reddit Bans The Page Where People Shared Leaked Celebrity Nude Photos

"The Fappening" subreddit was taken down Saturday.

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On Saturday, Reddit took down r/TheFappening, a page where people had been sharing nude celebrity photos that were hacked and released last week.

Reddit / Via reddit.com

While the massive celebrity photo leak — which included explicit pictures of Jennifer Lawrence, Victoria Justice, Kate Upton, and others — began on 4chan, the destination for those sharing and commenting on the pictures quickly shifted to Reddit's r/TheFappening page. That page remained active throughout the week following the pictures' release.

In addition to r/TheFappening, Reddit on Saturday also banned other related pages including r/fappening, a similarly named but different page that was used as a backup to the main page.

According to johnsmcjohn, the user who claims to have created the original page, r/TheFappening received "more than 250,000,000 page views in less than a week."

Saturday evening on another Reddit page, johnsmcjohn answered questions about r/TheFappening being banned.

Johnsmcjohn wrote that he was not happy Reddit took the page down and believed it was due to pressure from the company's lawyers. He said he created r/TheFappening after using r/Celebs, another Reddit page devoted to celebrities. His newly-created page went on to see explosive growth:

I created /r/TheFappening on sunday, and while I didn't intend for it to be the fastest growing sub in history, it was. I want to point out that our mod team worked their asses off to ensure that pics that violated reddit's rules were removed. And we prevented the doxx of the "leaker" as well. I know we aren't going to be considered the good guys, but we worked hard to ensure reddit's rules were followed.

Later, he said "being part of history" is the reason he wanted r/TheFappening to continue. "I want this to keep going," he wrote.

In a statement on Reddit's blog, CEO Yishan Wong explained the reasons for taking down r/TheFappening.

The statement indicates that Reddit "expeditiously removed content" when owners of that content asked them to. It continues:

While current US law does not prohibit linking to stolen materials, we deplore the theft of these images and we do not condone their widespread distribution.

Nevertheless, reddit's platform is structurally based on the ability for people to distribute, promote, and highlight textual materials as well as links to images and other media. We understand the harm that misusing our site does to the victims of this theft, and we deeply sympathize.

Having said that, we are unlikely to make changes to our existing site content policies in response to this specific event.

The reason is because we consider ourselves not just a company running a website where one can post links and discuss them, but the government of a new type of community. The role and responsibility of a government differs from that of a private corporation, in that it exercises restraint in the usage of its powers.

The statement goes on to say that administrators "uphold the ideal of free speech" and try not to interfere "because we care that you make your choices between right and wrong."

While the photo leaks themselves have been widely condemned, some criticized Reddit for singling out r/TheFappening while leaving other explicit pages up.

Still not defending /r/TheFappening, but hard to reconcile banning one subreddit for “illegal content” while leaving /r/SexWithDogs intact.

Neetzan Zimmerman@neetzan

Still not defending /r/TheFappening, but hard to reconcile banning one subreddit for “illegal content” while leaving /r/SexWithDogs intact.

8:06 PM - 06 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Reddit closes the "Fappening" & related subreddits due to copyright claims. The racist #ferguson subreddit remains. http://t.co/FlY7GiEynp

Elise Hu@elisewho

Reddit closes the "Fappening" & related subreddits due to copyright claims. The racist #ferguson subreddit remains. http://t.co/FlY7GiEynp

7:21 PM - 06 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

@JimDalrympleII they waited until everyone had a chance to see it, benefitted from the spike in traffic, and then played the good guy card..

Kristine A@kmanderson31

@JimDalrympleII they waited until everyone had a chance to see it, benefitted from the spike in traffic, and then played the good guy card..

8:39 PM - 06 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Reddit banned /r/creepshots in 2012 but has since turned a blind eye to /r/candidfashionpolice, a creepshots clone: http://t.co/epO8sGqUv0

Neetzan Zimmerman@neetzan

Reddit banned /r/creepshots in 2012 but has since turned a blind eye to /r/candidfashionpolice, a creepshots clone: http://t.co/epO8sGqUv0

7:35 PM - 06 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Reddit bans /r/thefappening subreddit used for trading stolen celebrity nudes but keeps /r/photoplunders up http://t.co/ibIQpjF2bf #unequal

Dare Obasanjo@Carnage4Life

Reddit bans /r/thefappening subreddit used for trading stolen celebrity nudes but keeps /r/photoplunders up http://t.co/ibIQpjF2bf #unequal

6:59 PM - 06 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

What I'm saying is the thousands of posts calling for genocide in Palestine are still up, but /r/thefappening is banned so... fair deal?

Tiny Hippo Steven@BlameWizards

What I'm saying is the thousands of posts calling for genocide in Palestine are still up, but /r/thefappening is banned so... fair deal?

8:51 PM - 06 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

r/thefappening got removed, good fucking riddance. I wish they'd get rid of the shitty gore and revenge porn ones too.

Gavin Wolfe@wohlfe

r/thefappening got removed, good fucking riddance. I wish they'd get rid of the shitty gore and revenge porn ones too.

7:28 PM - 06 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

r/CelebrityNudeArchive, which predates r/TheFappening, has also been banned. Meanwhile, r/CuteFemaleCorpses, has not.

Neetzan Zimmerman@neetzan

r/CelebrityNudeArchive, which predates r/TheFappening, has also been banned. Meanwhile, r/CuteFemaleCorpses, has not.

8:25 PM - 06 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Many Reddit users raised similar concerns, while others accused the company of caving to media and legal pressure. Wong responded by saying "we don't ban subreddits for being morally bad."

When Wong was asked about Reddit pages that show explicit photos of dead women and dead children, he said there are pages "we don't like, but which we choose not to exercise our power to delete them." Wong also dismissed the idea that banning r/TheFappening was prompted by media attention:

What a big media blowup might do is prompt us to make a statement clarifying our principles and feelings about the matter, as a way of contributing to the dialogue around that event. That is what you're seeing here. In fact, this even was starting to fade but we decided it was a good time to talk about what we believe in and where we are trying to take reddit.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jim Dalrymple II at jim.dalrymple@buzzfeed.com.

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