Actress Emma Watson attends the UN Women's "HeForShe" VIP After Party at The Peninsula Hotel on September 20, 2014 in New York City. ( Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Jim Spellman—WireImage
September 24, 2014 11:14 AM EDT

The threatened release of compromising photos of actress Emma Watson turned out to a hoax Wednesday, when it became clear that the website featuring a “countdown” to the big reveal was staged by a group that calls itself a P.R. firm and says they’re hoping to shut down the shadowy internet platform 4chan, which has been blamed for posting hacked private photos of celebrities in the past.

The group which calls itself “Rantic” claims they staged the fake countdown as a stunt to protest 4chan, and posted an open letter to Barack Obama asking him to crack down on the site. “We have been hired by celebrity publicists to bring this disgusting issue to attention,” the letter reads. “The recent 4chan celebrity nude leaks in the past 2 months have been an invasion of privacy and is also clear indication that the internet NEEDS to be censored. Every Facebook like, share & Twitter mention will count as a social signature — and will be one step closer to shutting down http://www.4chan.org.” No celebrities have come forward to say that they’re working with Rantic, nor does the group have a publicly listed phone number or a working email.

Multiple news outlets reported on Monday that 4chan was threatening to release the nude photos of Watson, who made her debut on Saturday as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations, while others argued that the whole thing was a 4chan hoax.

 

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Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com.

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