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James Franco shares a lot of James Franco in near-nude Instagram post

James Franco shares a lot of James Franco in near-nude Instagram post
This is a cropped version of the selfie that James Franco posted Thursday night on Instagram. Hours later, he took the image down. (James Franco / Instagram)

James Franco had second thoughts late Thursday night after posting a more-"intimate"-than-usual photo on Instagram, taking down the image shortly after it went up.

But not, of course, before it had been retweeted, downloaded, commented on and otherwise noticed by his social-media friends, and their friends, and their friends ...

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The image, shown in part above, depicted a serious-looking Franco in a bathroom clad only in boxer briefs -- left hand operating the cellphone and right hand down the front of his undergarments, at once covering and revealing part of his pubic hair.

Yup, just shy of grabbing his junk, for 1.9 million Instagram followers and 2 million Twitter followers to see, if they happened to be looking during the dubious window of opportunity.

Reactions in the 140-character arena seemed to lean mostly to the "what the what?" and "eew" end of the spectrum. There was some dismay about the photo being taken down, to which we can only say, screen-grab while you can, kids, because life is short.

One of the most visceral Twitter reactions came from user @CiaraVEVO, who wrote, "I closed a tab with that James Franco picture about 3 hours ago and I can still smell it. It is not a good smell."

In the shot, Franco revealed a little more than Geraldo Rivera did last year when the newsman posted a late-night, semi-nude selfie that he later regretted.

There's been a build-up to this on the "Spring Breakers" actor's Instagram: Recently he's been posting shirtless photos of himself in bed, with captions such as, "[What] HAPPENED? I was waiting for you," "Bday SELFIE - MORNIN' n MUCH LOVE" and "APPLE SLICES IN MY BED - I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU DIDNT SHOW UP!"

Franco told the Associated Press last month that he was just "playing around" with the medium, "like everybody else," to see what reactions he would get. A selfie is "a very intimate photo," said the performer, who's well known for dabbling in different media, from film to soap operas to nude paintings of fellow actor Seth Rogen. (At least one of the latter can be seen on Instagram as well.)

The "Of Mice and Men" actor wasn't slowing down at all Friday on Instagram, posting multiple times Friday on the social-media site that got him into trouble in early April when he appeared to hit on a 17-year-old girl who was visiting New York with her mom and met him outside the production's stage door.

That exchange left him "embarrassed" by his "bad judgment," he said in a TV interview shortly after the story hit.

Franco will be working nights on the Broadway stage until late July.

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Follow Christie D'Zurilla on Twitter and Google+. Follow the Ministry of Gossip on Twitter @LATcelebs.

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