September started with news of a massive intrusion on a number of celebrities’ cloud storage accounts. It was claimed that lots and lots of pictures, of a private nature, were stolen. The pictures leaked online, making this one of the biggest leaks of celebrity nude, and sexual footage, measured by the number of people that were affected.
Even when such things happen on a smaller scale, incidents like this have a few different aspects to them. I wish to discuss them briefly:
First of all, who’s to blame for this happening? Well, the simple answer is; the person who broke into the accounts and downloaded the material and proceeded to make it public.
That’s it. No shared blame, there is no excuse, no forgiving reason, and nothing that can defend the action of breaking into someones personal storage accounts, download pictures and spread them. You can not claim ignorance to this, or think that what you did was within the law or the defensible moral thing to do.
Now, what made the break-in possible is rumored to be a flaw in the security of Apple’s cloud storage. Whether this is the case or not, that still does not make Apple to blame for what actually happened.
Even though a lock is easy to break doesn’t mean you should. And even if there was no lock at all, there was no indication that these pictures were anything but private. Could this have been prevented by Apple having better security in place? Maybe. But without someone actually breaking into the accounts, this wouldn’t happen either.
Some will claim that the pictures shouldn’t have been taken in the first place. I can to a certain degree agree with that, but not when it comes to the question of blame. The leaked content has, as far as I know, not depicted anything that people shouldn’t be able to do if they want to. There is no evidence of anyone being hurt, or doing anything against their will. And in my opinion, as long as no one is hurt, people should be allowed and feel free to do what pleases them. There is no shame in that. However, a general rule of thumb could be: don’t take pictures and video of something that, if it is made public, will take away from the quality of your life.
I want to clarify: there is no shame in naked pictures, sexual pictures, whatever, as long as what is depicted is done consent from everyone involved.
However, if you think that such pictures or video, if they come out, can have a devastating effect on your life, your career or anything — it might be better not to make them. I don’t think people should think that, or feel that way. In a better world, the only focus after this incident should be that someone broke into other peoples accounts, and downloaded their personal stuff. The content of the documents should be a non-issue. There is nothing in any of the pictures that were leaked, that will make me think any less of any of the people involved. There is nothing in any of those pictures that affects the talent of any of those involved. And there is nothing in those pictures that anyone should be ashamed about. You might not like what you see, but the people in the pictures hopefully do. And so that is just a matter of taste.
There is nothing anyone can do at this point, to stop the pictures from spreading. All such attempts will just increase people’s interest in them, and you will just get the Streisand effect. People will keep on sharing them, and if something is on the Internet, it will stay on the Internet. And going after the people who are sharing them in a non-profitable way will probably just be an attack on people who are fans. I am not saying that such sharing is something anyone should do, but trying to stop it will be a losing battle.
You can try to deny that the pictures are of you, but considering the CSI-ish tendencies of some people, that might be futile. And also, coming off as a liar is in my opinion a lot worse than admitting to have had some fun. As I’ve already stated, I’ve seen two tweets in the aftermath that I consider both funny and admirable.
First one was Kirsten Dunst, expressing her frustration with the leak, without trying to excuse anything:
Second was Becca Tobin, making a joke on the fact that a couple of the pics that leaked had a christmas theme:
As for the person who actually broke into the accounts and invading the privacy of all the victims, he or she is a criminal, and should be held accountable for the crimes committed.
In summary, what I wanted to say, is that even though the criminal act here was a terrible invasion of privacy, there seems to be a lot of silly focus on the victims. A sort of shaming of people just doing things they did for pleasure, without hurting anyone. Putting someone’s private life on display against their will is abuse. Expecting the victims in any way to be ashamed, comment on it, or explain themselves is adding to that abuse.