Privacy in a Public World: Leaked Nude Photos on Social Media by Yvonne Tapia
When we take a photo of something like a cute puppy, a selfie with a friend, or a photo of their lunch, we assume that our content is secure in the cloud. As we convert almost completely to digital, it has become more apparent that security is a fleeting goal.
One of the biggest celebrity hacks occurred on August 31, 2014. Imageboard 4chan leaked nude photos of celebrities (including those of Jennifer Lawrence, Jill Scott, and Kirsten Dunst)”, proving this false sense of security. Dubbed as the Fappening, this leak brought forth the issue of, privacy and security, to the forefront of media attention.
While some celebrities laughed off the speculation that the photographs of them were real, others felt their privacy was violated.
Portia Seddon, a woman and gender studies professor at Hunter College in New York, reacted to the leak, “This is a sad example on how women’s bodies are objectified. Men’s pictures were not released. And none of these women gave anyone permission to release their photos.”
In addition, Dr. Alysa Ray, a psychology professor at Hunter College, says that “this is [representative] of the general socio-cultural attitude regarding women and their bodies as objects of public property.”
The day the photos were released was declared as the “internet’s best day ever” by some individuals. These are public people and one can see why others might find it sensational to see them.
“But it is creepy and wrong to do so without their consent,”said Seddon.
There were some celebrities who criticized 4chan users as being a virtual form of a “sex offender” and “molester” for releasing the nude photos.
Seddon said that she would not use those terms for users of the popular website because people do not know anything about who originally posted it, and “it seems the hacker simply found a way to make a lot of money.”
In contrast, Dr. Alysa Ray, argued that she would “definitely consider this a sex crime. Technically [the hacker] would be a sex offender. Some aspects of his personality involving high levels of entitlement [played] a role in various decisions [he] made. From seeking out and stealing the pictures to then sharing them in the public domain.”
Some blamed the celebrities for taking nude photos in the first place in what was a classic case of victim blaming. “No one blamed the individuals who shopped at Target when their database was hacked. Any individual–male or female–has a right to take and keep his or her private stash, nude and otherwise sexual pics,” Ray argued.
The photos were also posted on Reddit for a short period of time under the subreddit, “The Fappening”, and this is where the name The Fappening comes from.
Yishani Wong, chief executive of Reddit, said in an interview with the The Independent, that the decision to ban the web page containing the leaked photos was made on the premise that the images had been obtained illegally.
Usually the owner of content like photos, music or videos, needs to give permission for their release. Otherwise, it is illegal under the 1998 copyright act, Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Michelle Baricevic, a journalism major at Hunter College, walked over the skywalks as she stuffed notebooks into her backpack. “I use YouTube a lot for videos and songs. I never really think about whether or not what I’m looking at or listening to is within the parameters of copyright law,” she said as she hurried to her class.
While some people may classify nude photos as vulgar, some think differently. As a fashion blogger and fashion lover, Baricevic states: “With the fashion experience that I have, I have to say that the industry has a very different view on nude pictures. In the fashion industry’s photography to be more specific, and art world in general, nudity is seen as an element of beauty,” she said. Clearly what may be indecent to one’s eyes may be normal, even beautiful, to others.
As with anything, technology may be used for both good and bad. Dr. Alysa Ray suggests taking a step back. She recommends asking yourself, “Will this enhance my life and my relationships, or will this potentially feed into negativity?” Everyone is free to take a photo of what they want. It is your job to decide what to take a photo of and who to share it with.
© Yvonne Tapia 2015