Confirming that its joining Twitter has finally paid off, The FBI says that—like the rest of the Internet—it is now “aware” that nude photos of many female celebrities were stolen and posted over the weekend, including those of Jennifer Lawrence, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Kirsten Dunst. In a statement, the agency says, “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.” It declined to offer any further comment, saying it would be “inappropriate,” though one suspects its investigation will begin with looking at 4chan, eventually leading to many an agent retiring from the human race to study penguins in Antarctica.
Apple has issued its own statement indicating it’s looking into whether its systems were compromised, saying, “We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report.” Presumably these investigations are taking place in between furious calls to tech support, from customers demanding to know why the hell the default setting on their phones is to automatically upload every single photo to iCloud.
Kirsten Dunst, for one, has already suggested she’s none too pleased with Apple’s treatment of her user privacy.
Meanwhile, several of the celebrities involved have declared they will pursue their own legal action, with a spokesperson for Jennifer Lawrence saying, “This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.” Lawyers for Kate Upton made a similar statement: “This is obviously an outrageous violation of our client, Kate Upton’s, privacy. We intend to pursue anyone disseminating or duplicating these illegally obtained images to the fullest extent possible.”
Some celebrities who were purportedly included in the leak immediately denied their authenticity. Representatives for Ariana Grande called her alleged photos “completely fake,” while Victoria Justice and Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney did the same on Twitter.
the fake photos of me are crazy!! was trying to rise above it all, and not give “the creator” the time of day.. BUT.. pic.twitter.com/hceQcOxYkJ
— McKayla Maroney (@McKaylaMaroney) September 1, 2014
Mary Elizabeth Winstead issued her own, widely retweeted statement that quickly led to verbal abuse, because people are awful and Twitter amplifies that. She has since declared she’s going on an “Internet break.”
Numerous other women were included in the alleged master list of hacked photos and videos, including Avril Lavigne, Aubrey Plaza, Rihanna, Mary Kate Olsen, and Selena Gomez.
The case is reminiscent of the 2012 incident in which a man named Christopher Chaney leaked similarly personal photos of Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis. Johansson herself recorded a tearful statement testifying that Chaney’s invasion had left her feeling “truly humiliated and embarrassed.” Chaney received 10 years in prison.