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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Celebrities Want To Have Their Cake And Selfie It Too

Andy Vasoyan |
September 2, 2014 | 8:10 p.m. PDT



In 2011, a married man in Washington, D.C. used a Gmail account associated with his real name to send a woman on Craiglist lewd pictures of himself. That man was Christopher Lee, and the woman he messaged passed the photos he had sent her to a news outlet when a quick Google search revealed that Mr. Lee was a New York Congressman.

What followed was the typical media blitz, public apology and resignation that you would expect, but the real surprise here is that a person elected to the United States House of Representatives was absentminded enough to use his real name to solicit sex on Craigslist. It seems almost silly to say that's just not a thing to do if you're in the public eye.

A similar line of thought could apply to this Labor Day weekend's gigantic leak of alleged celebrity nudes, although let me start with the disclaimer that the two cases are not exactly the same and the leak was a horrible invasion of many people's privacy that should not be condoned. That said, for celebrities, just like Congresspersons, it has to be pretty obvious at this point that scandalous pictures have a way of finding their way onto the internet and into the media.

READ MORE: Apple Denies Security Breach

So why have celebrities kept on taking naked pictures of themselves on phones which may or may not have been backed up to iCloud?

It could be that they're all doing it to support the idea that they have as much right as the next person to exist as sexual beings and do whatever they like in the safety of their own homes. That might seem perfectly accurate, but the reality is way more nuanced than that. Celebrities receive special treatment in jail, different standards apply to them in parts of the law and, as of this Labor Day, the actual FBI is now involved in what has turned into a national manhunt for a few peeping/hacking toms. The argument that celebrities' sexual lives shouldn't have lost the privileges of normal privacy while the rest of their lives have gained the privileges of celebrity is an argument that they themselves discredited a long time ago.

Sorry, celebrities.

On the plus side, there wasn't much privacy to lose as a normal person to begin with: conversations with Edward Snowden show that the NSA is passing around pretty much every nude picture they get their hands on, which is most of them; the Supreme Court admitted that expecting Google to not go through the contents of your Gmail has been an unreasonable legal argument since people tried to apply it to telegrams; and let's not forget the 1 billion account passwords that Russian hackers stole earlier this year that have still not surfaced.

READ MORE: Most NSA-Collected Data Comes From Ordinary Internet Users

The future of the internet and personal security is anything but secure, and the real lesson we should take from this is that people who think the internet is a safe place to store things are living in a fantasy. Change your passwords, learn about internet secuirty, and if your fantasy absolutely must involve naked pictures, the safest method might actually just be an old-fashioned Polaroid.


Contact Contributor Andy Vasoyan here.



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