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Reddit Mod: Stolen Nude Photos Got Reddit Enough Money to Power Its Servers for a Month

#Celebgate is the gift that keeps on giving... us nausea.

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The last bit of news we shared with you about those stolen nude celeb photos was actually pretty good, as far as news about this subject goes: The art gallery that was going to display them decided not to, in part because “People were identifying with Jennifer Lawrence’s and Kate Upton’s victimization, much more than [the artist] had anticipated.” “Wait.  You mean people are calling me out for being awful here? Whoops.” Speaking of things that are awful: Reddit making money off the stolen photos! Yay!

To sum up Reddit’s involvement here—the pictures originally went up on 4chan but were spread around the Internet largely on Reddit, specifically on a subreddit called (*shudder*) The Fappening. After about a week Reddit banned The Fappening and related subreddits, partially because it came out that some of the pics constitute child pornography, as their subjects were underage at the time they were taken. Explains admin Jason Harvey in a statement:

These subreddits were of course the focal point for the sharing of these stolen photos. The images which were [the subject of DMCA takedown notices for copyright violation] were continually being reposted constantly on the subreddit. We would takedown images (thumbnails) in response to those DMCAs, but it quickly devolved into a game of whack-a-mole. We’d execute a takedown, someone would adjust, reupload, and then repeat. This same practice was occurring with the underage photos, requiring our constant intervention. The mods were doing their best to keep things under control and in line with the site rules, but problems were still constantly overflowing back to us. Additionally, many nefarious parties recognized the popularity of these images, and started spamming them in various ways and attempting to infect or scam users viewing them. It became obvious that we were either going to have to watch these subreddits constantly, or shut them down. We chose the latter. 

So if the pics were obtained through illegal means, and if their theft and release basically constitutes a sex crime—that’s fine. But if there’s potential for legal trouble, then Reddit starts banning. OK. Just making sure I understand the level of scum on which they’re operating here. Carry on.

But by the time The Fappening was banned, Reddit had already earned enough money for the site to power their servers for a month, at least according to subreddit creator John Menese in an interview with Wired:

“That statistic, [Menese] says, is based on how many times members of the subreddit paid for so-called Reddit ‘gold,’ the $3.99-per-month premium accounts that users often gift to each other to bestow a few extra features and prestige. Each subreddit publicly displays the amount of server time paid for by its members’ Reddit gold, and Menese tracked his forum’s contribution until just before it went offline.”

The flashy “Reddit can keep itself going for a month because of these photos” figure is just what Menese is saying—as Arc Technica explains, Reddit doesn’t release how much it spends on servers, and unless they do, Menese’s statement is impossible to verify. Still, the fact is that Reddit did make money off of their users being able to distribute these photos for a week before they stepped in and shut the jerks down already.

So what is Reddit going to do with that money? It’s “a tricky issue,” says Harvey in the statement linked above, “one which we haven’t figured out yet and that I’d welcome input on.”

“Gold was purchased by our users, to give to other users. Redirecting their funds to a random charity which the original payer may not support is not something we’re going to do. We also do not feel that it is right for us to decide that certain things should not receive gold. The user purchasing it decides that. We don’t hold this stance because we’re money hungry (the amount of money in question is small).

So, basically, a shrug and a “whaddayagonnado.” Worth noting is that while the money gained from gold purchases may be small, the money Reddit got from ad revenue as a result of increased pageviews is likely substantially less so.

(pic by wavebreakmedia via Shutterstock)

Previously in Celebgate

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