The Fappening is a sex crime. More specifically, The Fappening is dozens of sex crimes, committed en masse, with a socially engaged audience.

Over the last 24 hours, dozens of photos from the private accounts of female celebrities have leaked online. The photos, hidden behind firewalls and password protected accounts, were stolen by a hacker, or group of hackers, and then posted to 4Chan, Reddit, Imgur, AnonLib, and various other easily accessible social networks.

Before we even knew what was happening, Jennifer Lawrence was the victim of a sex crime, Kaley Cuoco was filmed standing up after using a toilet, and a Reddit user had created the subreddit “/R/TheFappening.” Soon after the mass release of naked celebrity photos began, more than 100,000 people flocked to Reddit to watch as live photo uploads were posted to the social network.

In the age of massively consumable news media, The Fappening quickly became fodder for CNN, Fox News, NBC News, and every other small, medium, and large-scale news agency and blog in-between.

Somehow, a vicious act against women was being talked about like the must-browse social event of 2014. Sure major media outlets pointed out that Jennifer Lawrence was already seeking legal action against photo posting websites, but they focused mostly on the keywords that drove visitors to their web pages. Titles like “Kaley Cuoco Naked In Video” and “Jennifer Lawrence Bares All For The Fapping” quickly flooded Google, Yahoo, and Bing search results. Admittedly, I personally covered several stories about The Fappening. I chose to focus on what The Fappening is and how it was spreading, rather than solely focusing on the female celebrities themselves.

I could go on a long diatribe about why The Fappening is wrong, but in the end, it is a sex crime, and that should be justification enough for turning away and reading something more educational.

In the meantime, here are some wise words from Lena Dunham:

As Jennifer Lawrences publicist Liz Mahoney correctly explains:

“This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.”

Not only is The Fappening a sex crime, but it could actually lead to valid civil and criminal lawsuits in the very near future.

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