The FBI is looking into the hacking of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, and the leaking of their nude photos on the Internet.
“The FBI is aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter. Any further comment would be inappropriate at this time,” said a statement released by the agency.
More than 100 celebrities — all women — are believed to be the victims of the virtual invasion that leaked personal, and often salacious, photos that were apparently being stored in iCloud, all over the Internet. Besides Lawrence and Upton, Kirsten Dunst, Lea Michele and soccer star Hope Solo are among the victims.
It was not clear how many hackers may have been involved or if all the pictures were authentic.
Representatives for actress Jennifer Lawrence said in a statement, "This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence."
Tech Times reported that Twitter had suspended all accounts that posted nude images of Lawrence. A spokeswoman for Apple, which runs iCloud, said the website re/code is “actively investigating” the hacks.
Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead tweeted about the "creepy effort," the hacker had taken to obtain private pics she took with her husband, "years ago in the privacy of our home,” expressing empathy for fellow victims and finally announcing, "Going on an internet break. Feel free to my @'s for a glimpse of what it's like to be a woman who speaks up about anything on twitter."
But Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney denied that the images floating around the Internet attached to her name were her, tweeting, "the fake photos of me are crazy!!"
Pop star Ariana Grande's spokesperson told Buzzfeed the pictures purported to be of her "are completely fake" and actress-singer Victoria Justice said via Twitter that pictures of her were not real, either.
Hackers enjoy tackling difficult challenges and broadcasting their triumphs - and they target celebrities because the public is obsessed with them and images of celebrities have cultural currency, explained Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University.
When hackers manage to crack the accounts of women who are admired by millions, they savor the fact that they “get a rise out of all kinds of famous people,” which feeds their egos, he said.
While hackers may enjoy the false sense of intimacy in accessing a star's private stash of photos, the actions in this instance have clear misogynistic precedence.
"Objectifying women is not a good thing, but depicting them in intimate situations is part of a long entertainment and voyeuristic tradition," said Thompson.
The takeaway? Celebrities are especially attractive targets for hackers, but no one should ever think that any content of any kind they put on a phone or computer is entirely safe from intrusion, Thompson said.