Editorial, Opinion

EDIT: Easy Bait for Clickbait

Girls are warned at a young age to never send out scandalous photos to those they don’t trust, but a recent hacking situation may prove that it’s dangerous to even have them in the privacy of their own homes (or iPhones).

On Sunday, nude photos of many famous female celebrities, including Ariana Grande, Kirsten Dunst and the seemingly untouchable Jennifer Lawrence, were leaked to the public. Although a culprit has yet to be identified, cybersecurity experts have discerned that the hackers obtained these private images through a complicated hacking of the online image-storing platform, iCloud.

Jennifer Lawrence at the 83rd Academy Awards. PHOTO BY LOMITA/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Jennifer Lawrence at the 83rd Academy Awards. PHOTO BY LOMITA/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

‘‘It is important for celebrities and the general public to remember that images and data no longer just reside on the device that captured it,’’ said security researcher Ken Westin in his blog TripWire. ‘‘Once images and other data are uploaded to the cloud, it becomes much more difficult to control who has access to it, even if we think it is private.’’

Aside from causing people to question the confidentiality of supposedly private online storage systems such as iCloud, this so-called ‘scandal’ has called massive attention to the privacy of celebrities.

“There are suggestions that prosecution may result not only for the hacker of the photos, but for those who view and share them,” wrote Van Badham in her article for The Guardian. “Good. To excuse viewing the images just because they’re available is deplorable.”

While Badham’s viewpoint is aligned with the current liberal social climate that dominates the blogosphere, it is a far cry from the public reactions to celebrity nude photo leaks in the past. It’s not as if this is the first time a sex tape or nude picture of a famous figure was reduced to a clickbait link.

Throwback to everyone’s favorite sex tape scandal: “One Night in Paris.” Although Paris Hilton allegedly had nothing to do with the leakage of her sex tape, which featured the notorious heiress canoodling with her ex-boyfriend Rick Salomon, Hilton was largely criticized for having taped it in the first place. Can the criticism be attributed to her activities, or was the chastising rooted in the fact that Hilton was already regarded as a morally loose, spoiled heiress who few people liked anyway?

And then there’s Kim Kardashian, who garnered so much attention for her sex tape, she gained a television show and A-list status for doing almost nothing. While the Kardashian name is now more closely associated with an iPhone app (E-listers beware) than a sex tape, nudity brought her to the forefront of Hollywood news, all because the nighttime activities of a famous lawyer’s privileged daughter could be viewed by just about anyone.

Now we come to Jennifer Lawrence, who is arguably the most popular actress in Hollywood at the moment. Known as much for her Oscar-winning performances as for her spunky public personality, she has few detractors. Considering her infallibility as “America’s Sweetheart,” maybe it’s not such a shock that bloggers such as Badham and Twitter preachers are jumping to her defense. If a sex tape of Kim Kardashian were to come out tomorrow, it is doubtful people would miss the chance to criticize her for being irresponsible and stupid.

There’s no question whoever took the time to locate and subsequently publicize the photos of Lawrence and the other famous faces has committed a disturbing breach of privacy, no matter how public their lives are. And there also is no doubt these women had the right to take these photos. But once these images are splashed across every social media platform and random news outlet on the Internet, can we really be blamed for looking?

True, it is wrong to share the posts, but is it really sexual harassment if we click the link to view? Jennifer Lawrence, as annoyed as she deserves to be for having her photos leaked, is most likely not going to feel directly abused by the 16-year-old boy looking at her nudes. Furthermore, if we’re going to call passively clicking a link sexual harassment in a world where people suffer physical sexual violation every day, the term ‘sexual harassment’ is cheapened.

Everyone, famous or not, has the right to privacy, but in a world as interconnected as ours, it may be too much to expect that privacy be respected. Hey, as long as you don’t share, it’s maybe ok to stare.

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