Over the last two years that I've been frequenting Reddit, I've really grown to love and appreciate the site. It's just a total wealth of knowledge, and there's a subreddit for literally anything you can think of. It allowed me to move away from Tumblr, just before it turned into a network of pseudo open-minded individuals, but amplified everything I loved about it. It let me get a glimpse of the best content on the internet, without the awfulness of 4chan, or the delay of having "viral" posts posted to Facebook three weeks after they've worn out their welcome.
However, yesterday I began to lose faith in the network. After I got home from a long day at work, I was browsing Twitter to catch up on things that I had missed, and saw several tweets regarding a supposed iCloud hack, and a massive album of celebrity nudes. Being naturally intrigued by this whole thing, I went and check it out, and I could not have been any less stoked by the whole affair. I felt weird, and pervy scrolling through, and before I hit even the 10th of a seemingly endless page, I had to quit.
I sat down, and decided I was going to talk to two of my friends about this, and I realized that I wasn't alone in feeling mixed emotions. On one hand, it's not great seeing people being dumb, taking nude selfies, and it's even worse seeing their privacy being completely and totally violated. But, on the other hand, boobs are great, and these are people displaying that they're completely comfortable with their bodies by taking these selfies, so who are we to judge? There's nothing wrong with wanting to display your body, or wanting to be comfortable with your sexuality. There is something wrong in having that done for you without your consent, however.
The thing is that we should judge - not the celebrities, but rather the men and communities on Reddit that perpetuate and allow these sorts of creepy, horrible acts to continue. The biggest issue that I, along with many others, have with Reddit, is the laissez-faire attitude that Reddit managers seem to have taken. There is a culture of free-speech on the site, and while that has fostered countless great conversations on countless topics, it has also allowed people like Michael Brutsch, a.k.a u/violentacrez, to create horrible subreddits such as r/jailbait, and r/creepshot.
It goes back the topic I wrote about a few days ago, on how misogynistic internet trolls are ruining this whole experience we share on the internet, something so ubiquitous, by being total scumbags, and it all starts at 4chan, the head of the great Internet human-centipede.
The problem lies at the heart of Reddit; total anonymity. One of the two golden rules on the site is no posting of any personal information (the other being no child porn, but seeing as how far u/violentacrez was allowed to get, it's easy to see that Reddit is, again, super laissez-faire in making sure that they're own rules are followed), except for when it involves naked female celebrities. There are countless subreddits that thrive on this kind of traffic, from r/celebs, r/WatchitForThePlot, and r/nakedcelebs. The sidebar information of the latter actually reads as follows:
"To clarify, I mean full out porn, nude shots, bikini shots, leaked sex tapes. Any dirt you have on those hot Hollywood stars post it here!"
Reddit allows for users to remain totally anonymous, and I'm sure that they're grateful for that, but doesn't allow the for the same level of privacy when a massive celebrity nude leak takes place. And this double-standard doesn't just apply to Reddit.
Commenters all over the web are comparing this to the reaction the public had when Anthony Weiner, former U.S. Congressman, was caught sending pictures of his penis. The issue there is that these women likely weren't sending them to other men and women, but were rather keeping them for private purposes, where as Weiner was actively sending these explicit images to three different women. In this case, it was directly Weiner's fault, as he wasn't hacked, and didn't have these pictures displayed without his permission. He willingly, and knowingly, sent them out himself. These women did not, and that right there is the difference that needs to be made clear.
The Verge's T.C. Sottek posted an article today calling these creeps out, rightly so, and chillingly compared those who supported the leak to those who disliked the NSA.
It's easy to say, "don't take nude photos!" or, "don't back up anything private to the cloud!" Living in the modern world necessitates the use of the Internet, and yes, while there are ways to minimize the risk of being hacked, are these women not entitled to just as much privacy we as non-celebrities are? It's basically like saying, "don't bank online, use your credit cards to purchase anything on Amazon, or use e-mail. You have to this all in person and offline, all because SOMETHING embarrassing may come back to bite you in the ass." These photos were private, and short of using an analog camera, getting them printed (and possibly duplicated and swiped during the printing process), placing them in a scrapbook inside your house with steel-reinforced shell covering your house to prevent buglers to get in, what do you want these celebrities to do? They're human, just like us, and as humans, are allowed some modicum of respect and privacy.
While these photos will eventually disappear from the public mind, it doesn't matter. The privacy of these women was violated horribly, and this whole affair will bring into question the safety of cloud storage, automated photo backup, and more horribly, lend a sense of legitimacy to the god-awful movie, Sex Tape.
But this isn't entirely about what's on our phones these days. It's about women being objectified, shamed, and treated like objects. The Twitter hashtag, #IfMyPhoneGotHacked, is a prime example of this shaming, with terrifying shades of Elliot Rodger thrown in for good measure. It's one thing to view these images, even if in particularly scummy way, but it's another thing entirely to go after these women only to harass and mock them for being victims of something they could not control.
People want their own privacy, but do not care for that of others, and that's what happens when we as a society value anonymity more than pure, simple, unbridled decency.