On August 31, 2014, a collection of almost 500 private pictures of various celebrities, mostly women, and with many containing nudity, were posted on the imageboard 4chan, and later disseminated by other users on websites and social networks such as Imgur and Reddit. The images were initially believed to have been obtained via a breach of Apple's cloud services suite iCloud, or a security issue in the iCloud API which allowed them to make unlimited attempts at guessing victims' passwords. However, access was later revealed to have been gained via spear phishing attacks.
The event, which media outlets and Internet users referred to under names such as "The Fappening" (a portmanteau of the words "fap"—a slang term for masturbation—and the film The Happening) and "Celebgate", was met with a varied reaction from the media and fellow celebrities. Critics felt that the distribution of the images was a major invasion of privacy for their subjects, while some of the allegedly depicted subjects questioned their authenticity. The leak also prompted increased concern from analysts surrounding the privacy and security of cloud computing services such as iCloud—with a particular emphasis on their use to store sensitive, private information.