By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
There was a time when sharing intimate images through digital devices was a big no-no. Sure, it might have been a passionate gesture, but such exchanges have always opened the door for betrayal, whether the subject of the picture wanted to be a pornographic exhibit or not. The scandal earlier this month surrounding Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and other female celebrities was a clear example that the cultural paradigm has changed. The onus is no longer placed on those taking the pictures, rather on those eager to hack networks and go through extreme measures to uncover them—and those who view the pictures afterward.
The plea now is for the whole Internet community to restrain from clicking on any link that showcases pornographic images that were posted without consent. While some might choose to boycott those click-baits and smutty online channels, most have already entered keywords into the search engine in hopes of discovering those leaked images. The same way society has deemed it okay to take exposed pictures of oneself or another with little to no consequence, people are also allowed to Google something with little to no consequence. The line—although drawn—is still faint and often-ignored.
Having nude pictures of yourself floating around on the Internet is humiliating, no doubt. And hacking into personal accounts is a breach of privacy, which is a crime. Not wanting to victim-blame or anything like that, but if you don’t want naked pictures of yourself on the Internet, perhaps it’s best to just refrain from sending those images initially. Don’t post naked pictures of yourself; that was what I was taught at the dawn of the computer age. What has changed? Why are we lowering the bar for ourselves? Why are we placing the blame on technology such as iCloud and people such as hackers? After all, hackers have always been around, just like muggers, thieves, and other criminals.
The Internet is more than a public place to visit now. The Internet is our photo albums, our personal documents, and even our safety deposit boxes. The Internet is how we communicate to our employers, our families, and our loved ones. But we must remember, no matter how zealous we become and how tender the moment is, the Internet is still a public place.
Telling hackers to stay out of our personal account is like telling the mugger with a knife aimed at my gut to not rob me. We cannot convince those people. The fact that they have gone to such extreme lengths to uncover private, and sometimes deleted, pictures of celebrities is proof that they are out for more than a casual tug. No angry tweet or Facebook post will convince them that what they are doing is wrong.
So what are we share-happy people going to do? Live in constant fear that our private images will end up on a Tumblr feed? Well, at the moment is sure seems like it. All it takes is one share, one drag and drop, or one forwarded message and your intimate image is some stranger’s desktop wallpaper.
We know the boundaries of the Internet, yet we still dare to cross them. That is why I have no sympathy for those who take nude pictures of themselves. I also don’t have any sympathy for hackers either, because if you take risks, you’d better handle the consequences yourself.