Privacy in the Age of the Internet

It doesn't actually exist. Just ask Jennifer Lawrence.

On the Internet, do we make sure that our passwords contain at least 8 case-sensitive characters and include at least one special character because we believe that our information is safe from prying eyes?


Are we judicious about our privacy settings and visibility of our online profiles because we believe that our online reputations are not without consequence?

Of course not.

Hackers know this, and delight in the chaos they can create by making the hidden visible. One group in particular, 4chan, has taken responsibility for a series of leaks of celebrity nude photos, which went viral over the internet, tweeted and re-tweeted like a digitized note being passed with a snicker around a classroom.

Like any of Pandora’s boxes, the Internet is filled with possibilities, both good and bad. Applications like Snapchat, which was also subject to a breech, — though photos have not yet been disseminated — are ripe for information anarchy, given the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t secretive nature of the app. Snapchat is a favorite among teens, who don’t have the good sense to know what to keep to themselves.

For adults who may exercise better judgment, the internet is still a bit of an OK-corral. Jennifer Lawrence, a victim of the celeb photo hacks, has gone on record to call the exposure a “sex crime.”

The Internet has changed out understanding of what is private, what is accessible and what is appropriate. Click to post culture encourages that users put it all put there, but we still cling to old world order values like privacy and discretion.

It’s a conflict between who we are and who we will become in the unbridled world of the Internet. Though leaks of any kind are morally repugnant and are inexcusable, I’m not sure we we can demand or expect privacy for images and information to which others might have access at the click of a button. We shouldn’t assume that we can trust anyone else that much.

Follow @MayaKFrancis on Twitter.