As most of the Internet now knows some nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and several other celebrities were released over the weekend after a hacker obtained them illegally from their cloud server accounts. I’m not here to debate the various terms that have been bandied about the Internet in the last few days like “scandal” or “leak” or even to discuss the gigantic breach of privacy and how violating that must be for the women involved. What I want to discuss is that this goes to prove what I have always told my children, that if you share something via the Internet or any other means of electronic sharing there is always the possibility that someone other than the person you intend to will see it.
Is it right? Absolutely not.
Is it reality? Absolutely.
There is absolutely no such thing as a reasonable expectation of privacy when you are sharing things online.
It may seem like a bit of old fashioned wisdom–sometimes I think that’s what we are lacking most in the world today!–my grandfather used to say there was no such thing as confidential, if it’s written down on a piece of paper then anyone who is able to read will have the potential to read it. The same goes for sharing via the Internet. If you send a text message, or an email, or a photograph, or post to social media then you should assume that the entire world will have access to it, because that is exactly what could happen.
Do I completely understand the appeal of exchanging sexy photos? Hell yes! Do I completely understand the desire to send sultry and sexy text messages to the person you are in a relationship with? Absolutely! Do I also know that those things go through servers, and clouds, and frankly use a whole lot of technology that most of us are not fully able to understand? Yes! That means there are absolutely zero chance that anyone will be leaking nude photos of me, because there are none in existence. Any sexy and sultry talk that happens between me and the one I love happens in real life, face-to-face, where the only way it’s being leaked is if it’s repeated by one of us (and that had better not be happening!).
The only way to guarantee to prevent pregnancy is to abstain from sex. The only way to guarantee no one will see nude photos of you is to not take them to begin with.
I heard one statement say that the celebrity in question had long since deleted the photographs that were leaked online this weekend, she sent them to her husband and deleted them. But guess what, they were backed up to her cloud server (or his?) and they didn’t even realize it! Nothing is ever really gone in this digital age, delete doesn’t mean disappear. Take a photo, send a photo, delete a photo…like it never even happened. Wrong!
From the moment that my children had access to things like camera phones or laptops with webcams I have had numerous conversations about how any photo you take, can be shared, and anything that is shared can be seen by the entire world. Sharing sexy photos and sexy text messages seems like the newest version of safe sex to the generation of kids who are coming of age with it. Show him a picture of your boob, you’re across town so there’s no chance things will get out of hand! Send a picture of yourself in your panties, what could it hurt?
I feel terrible for the women who have had their privacy violated, but the fact of the matter is if they weren’t celebrities, if their names weren’t names that we know it wouldn’t be front page news. If these photos were hacked from some random women’s phones we wouldn’t be talking about it. But since they are celebrities, and since one of those celebrities is someone that every teenage girl admires thanks to her role in The Hunger Games, we can take advantage of this opportunity to talk to our kids about the dangers that come from taking, sharing and sending risque photographs of ourselves, or of others.