Don’t Look At Nude Pictures That Aren’t Meant For You, And Don’t Click On Articles That Promise Them

Damn it, people, you are better than this.

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As every man and his dog is aware by now, nude photos of a number of female celebrities have leaked online. Either you’ve seen them being shared on social media, or you’ve been helpfully alerted to the fact that they exist by some “respectable” news websites who are sticking the news, along with suitably salacious (though clothed) photos of the celebrities in question, front-and-centre on their homepages.

Maybe you find these celebrities attractive. Maybe you would very much like to see them naked. That is an understandable impulse; everyone likes to see attractive people naked. But here’s the thing: those photos were (allegedly) obtained by a hacker who gained access to these celebrities’ personal iCloud accounts. They were not meant for public consumption, or to be seen by anyone other than the people they were originally taken for.

Considering how many people are now either actively seeking out these photos or profiting by their leaking, it seems people need reminding of a blatantly obvious point about all this: looking at someone naked for your own pleasure, when they don’t want you to, is a creepy and gross thing to do. The medium you view them in, their celebrity status, or the fact that lots of other people are doing it are not valid reasons or excuses for violating this basic principle. By doing it anyway, you are telling that person — and other people — that their right to bodily privacy is worth less than your desire to get a cheap thrill out of seeing their naked body. Do not do it.

“But she’s a celebrity! This is part of being in the public eye!”

Incorrect, bucko; this is a bad rationalisation, and people who use it should feel bad. Someone who earns lots of money by acting in movies or TV shows does not magically become an all-purpose piece of public property. Regardless of whether someone is famous or not, they’re allowed to do all the things regular people enjoy, like go to the beach, wear not-much clothing when it’s hot and make out with babes, on the reasonable assumption that someone isn’t going to get up in their fucking grill about it. 

The fact that celebrities are routinely targeted by paparazzi and often have their privacy violated is not an excuse; if a group of nutcases out there periodically made a habit of throwing acid in famous people’s faces, that would rightly be regarded as a crime and a violation of the basic principles by which civilised human beings live. It would not be excused with a shrug and the justification “that’s the price of being famous”. No one “signs up” to have their emails hacked, their phones tapped, or their private conversations secretly recorded and broadcast.

“What did she expect? She took nude photos ON HER PHONE.”

Well done, you! As you have so cleverly spotted, people are using their phones and the Internet to send pictures of their junk to each other. They are doing this for two reasons. One, two (or more) people who find each other attractive and trust each other will often be naked together, a phenomenon scientists have tentatively termed “doing the sex”. Two, now that we carry phones around all the time and the Internet is a thing that exists, those people now have a way to enjoy their trusted other’s nakedness while they are not physically present. As you are also no doubt aware, phones can be hacked, nothing on the Internet is truly private, and you leave a digital trail of virtually everything you do online that is very difficult, if not impossible, to erase.

These are all true things. These are also irrelevant things. How someone chooses to act in a private or intimate moment with a partner — in real life, online or in any other medium — does not change the fundamental privacy of the act itself. We act very differently around people we know and trust than we do when we feel we are being watched, or when we are in public, and we trust that people will be good enough to make the distinction. We would expect a potential employer to judge us on our resume and how we present in a job interview, not on the dumb photos we send to our friends on Snapchat.

Similarly, intruding on someone’s private moments is a reprehensible thing to do, no matter the medium; perving on nude photos meant for someone else that leaked online is no different to peering through someone’s window while they’re having sex with their partner. You wouldn’t do, or accept, the latter behaviour; apply the same standards to the former.

“But these things are EVERYWHERE. The damage is done, what harm can me looking do?”

You’re right, these photos are everywhere by now. Major news outlets have picked up on them, and social media has done what social media does. You can very easily go and look at them; they’re only a Google search away. I can’t stop you; no one can, except yourself.

So here’s really why you shouldn’t: doing it would make you a dick. That’s it.

This is basic, primary school-level stuff; you expect to be treated with base-level respect and decency by everyone around you, and when someone doesn’t you justifiably get upset, and call them a dick. Because that’s what they’re being.

If someone leaked nude photos of you online, most likely you would be appalled and horrified, and you wouldn’t want people looking at them, sharing them, or drawing attention to them. You would call someone who did that to you a dick, and they would be. If people went looking for them despite clearly knowing how you felt, they would be dicks too.

This situation clearly falls into that category, except it’s not happening to you; it’s happening to someone else. But part of not being a dick is imagining how your actions and words affect other people; putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and extending to them the same respect you extend to yourself. Failing to do that, especially in a situation where someone is upset and embarrassed, makes you a dick.

Observe Wheaton’s Law. Don’t look at nude photos that aren’t meant for you. Don’t reward people who do dickish things, and most of all, don’t — fucking don’t — be a dick.

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