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Celebrities: Their Lives, Our Entertainment?

Posted: September 12, 2014, 12:30 p.m.
by Kelsey Weiss.

As celebrities’ presence on social media booms, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find the line between their public personas and private lives. As avid consumers of pop culture, we’ve grown accustomed to knowing what Miley Cyrus had for breakfast or weighing in on Taylor Swift’s latest ensemble with a few taps on our smartphones. We millennials feel entitled to a certain amount of information given the exposure that accompanies their various professions and the surge in social media engagement. However, the line between public and private becomes morally blurred when celebrities’ basic rights to privacy are severely compromised.

Case in point
In the past week, a number of notable female celebrities found themselves in a hotbed of scandal after alleged nude photos of them surfaced online. Among the targeted were Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Ariana Grande. Their most intimate photos found their way onto the Internet, and more importantly, into the Twitter feeds of the general public.

As expected, responses to the scandal poured in — from industry insiders, the affected celebrities themselves and the authorities taking legal action. With each share, the photos were commented on, objectified and made to be part of the latest rotation of news. While many came to the defense of those violated, there appeared to be no recognition of the injustice of what was taking place, especially on social media. It was generally believed that as the public, we somehow had a right to what was once inside the safety net of a celebrity’s iCloud account.

Why does it matter?
The most disturbing issue this scandal raises is why social media users aren’t encouraging a disengagement in the discussion of intimate aspects of a female celebrity’s life. As evidenced in the #YesAllWomen social media campaign, thousands of citizens responded when prompted about their own experiences with sexual exploitation, but what about the rights of those more famous than us?

From an ethical standpoint, there is a critical responsibility to maintain good practice in response to privacy violations like this one. Bloggers like Perez Hilton should be held responsible for the image they help perpetuate when they choose to carelessly circulate images without thought of consequence. Accountability should be encouraged no matter the subject, as it’s the only way we can ensure this trend doesn’t continue.

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