A few days ago, nude pictures of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande, Victoria Justice, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Kate Upton, Lea Michele, Kirsten Dunst, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and others showed up online. I happened to see them on a friend's Twitter account. When I saw them, I was like, "no way those are real." But apparently they were.
As the facts of the story emerged, it appears that a hacker with the name of "OriginalGuy" hacked his way into cloud storage and stole these pictures and then proceeded to put them out for mass viewing. In fact, he alleges that he has hundreds, if not thousands, more pictures, and he will be leaking them out over time.
While some celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton admitted the pictures were authentic, they were obviously and rightly outraged that their private information was splattered all over the internet. Others denied the authenticity of the photos and told their fans the photos were faked.
But all of those photos were private and personal. They belonged to the owners of the photos and no one else. It is no different from someone breaking into your storage and stealing your private property. Theft is theft, whether it is photos, computers, jewelry, or anything else you own and maintain in a private place.
I remember when my oldest child (who is now 22) got her first phone with a camera. Her mother and I repeatedly cautioned her about taking inappropriate pictures of herself (revealing or nudes) and keeping them on her phone. We explained that people could get your images off of your phone. We warned her against sending nudes to anyone because once out there, they may end up in places you don't want them.
Even if deleted, they are still accessible. In fact, actress Mary Winstead commented, "To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves." She went on to say that the photos had been deleted years ago. Yet somehow they were still available to be hacked.
The internet is not as secure as some would think.
Thank you Ms. Winstead. You just made my point!
Once these photos have been taken and stored, they are potentially available ANY time someone wants to use their skills to hack and steal them. Now while I will admit that the likelihood that someone will want to hack and steal nudes of my kids is low, it is still possible. Nudes are nudes. They fetch high prices. Someone out there might want nudes of people, famous or not.
My first reaction to this was: "So don't take nude pictures on your phone." And for goodness sakes, if you do, don't share them or store them anywhere.
Some people have argued that people have the right to take nude photos of themselves and expect privacy just as women have the right to wear short skirts in public and not expect to be harassed or ogled or touched. While I agree that they should have complete agency over their own bodies, once that agency is shared with others, you are at their mercy as to how those photos can be used in a negative way.
So don't give your agency away.
If you must take nude photos of yourself (because, after all, it is your body and you have that right), then go for it! But please keep them just for your own enjoyment. If you want to share them with someone, do so by showing them the pictures on your phone while holding it in your hand. Don't send them to someone via the internet. Don't send them to someone via your phone service provider.
The internet is not as secure as some would think. Cloud storage is not as secure (apparently) as we would like it to be. My home is not as secure as I would like it to be. Thieves are out there. Given an opportunity and a motive, some people will steal and do nefarious things with the stolen property. This is the way of the world.
Should that stop you from living your life? Absolutely not! But it should make you aware to take precautions with the things you value, or that could potentially cause you embarrassment or anger if shared. Be smart about your security and your private information. Hopefully this horrible situation will give people cause to think about their actions and their internet security, and how they choose to share and store private information and pictures.
Maybe my kids will take some of the lessons I tried to teach them about internet security and sharing private things with people to heart. If anything good can come from this unfortunate situation, I hope that it is that people (including my kids) will be more aware of how little security the internet has, and be cautious of the information and photos they choose to share.