Why it’s Sexual Exploitation When Celebrities’ Private Images are Hacked and Shared

By KC

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Every other week, it seems like we hear about someone else in the public eye who’s wrapped up in a sexting or revenge porn scandal. Seems so passé, right? But the reality is, we shouldn’t be desensitized to these news stories, no matter how many times it happens.

So, why should we care if celebrities’ intimate or private images are hacked, and then posted online without their consent? We should care for a lot of reasons—and here’s why.

Related: Studies Reveal Revenge Porn Survivors Suffer Similar Trauma As Sexual Assault Survivors

(Note that we don’t use the word “leaked photos” in this post. That’s because the term “leaked” is a soft, misleading word that implies that these photos somehow found their way onto the internet by the celebrity or someone close to them. Not the truth. These photos were illegally hacked and stolen, unknowingly to those violated. Either way, “leaked” or “hacked, it’s absolutely not cool.)

Exploitation is never okay

What’s the difference between a person on a computer looking at hacked celebrity photos and a stalker sitting in their car, watching someone get undressed through their window? In both cases, the one inside their private space doesn’t want anybody looking at them, and is doing something that wasn’t meant to be broadcast.

A huge difference, here, is the convenience of seeing it, and the exploitative means by which these images are being circulated.

In case it wasn’t clear before, the celebrities whose privacy is violated aren’t porn performers. So why do we treat them like they are? Instead, why don’t we treat all people, porn performers and celebrities included, with dignity and respect, and not forget that they’re human beings who don’t deserve to be humiliated and degraded?

Related: Revenge Porn: Is It A New Form Of Digital Sex Slavery?

Every time these images are intentionally searched for, looked at, downloaded, or shared, the criminal hacker gets a virtual high-five. It’s as if to say that the public is entitled to exploit these celebrities’ bodies, no matter what those pictured think or say about it. It’s as if to say their humanity, dignity, and privacy doesn’t matter at all. And what’s worse is privacy hacks like these happen every day, to regular people all over the world.

This issue is only magnified when it happens to celebs, but don’t believe that it hasn’t happened to someone that you may know.

You probably know someone who is a victim

About one in 25 Americans are either threatened with or victims of nonconsensual image sharing. That equates to roughly 10 million Americans, according to a study published by the Data & Society Research Institute.

As published in Business Insider, these numbers were found as part of a larger study, which showed that 47% of Americans were victims of online harassment.

The reality is, revenge porn and sharing non-consensual images is all too real in the lives of women, girls, men, and boys. And that is on all of us as a collective society, because the internet provides what the people want and support. When you think about it, it’s a system of supply and demand. So what can we do about it? We can all help to stop the demand for this kind of behavior and content, and the supply will ideally dry up.

Related: Leah’s Story: From Revenge Porn Victim To Powerful Advocate

And if revenge porn and non-consensual image sharing aren’t on your radar, then what’s important is being aware of its reality, its prevalence, and its very real impact on peoples’ lives. We need to recognize that revenge porn is an issue that deserves our attention and our efforts as Fighters, no matter who it happens to, celebrity or not.

Why this matters

The images of all the celebrities affected by this problem are now being used as pornographic material all over the world and those violated can do nothing about it.

It’s simply not enough to know about and disagree with cyberbullying and revenge porn, we need to take action in order to put a stop to this type of victimization, violence, and bullying.

Related: Pressing Send: Why Sexting Can Actually Be A Really Risky Idea

So, what can we do as Fighters?

Speak Out

Speak out by remembering and emphasizing that this issue is fundamentally about consent, it’s about sexual exploitation, and it’s about respecting another person’s humanity, instead of humiliating and objectifying them.

Related: 7 Things You Can Do If You’re A Victim Of Deepfakes Or Revenge Porn

We often speak about the serious dangers of sexting but let the crucial message of consent permeate your conversations about this issue. Whether someone “should” have possession of or sent those photos is not the issue we’re focusing on here, the simple fact is that these hackers violated trust, and the law and engaged in behavior that should not be acceptable, but is being treated by many as if it’s both acceptable and funny. The truth is, it is neither. It’s exploitation.

To learn more about the dangers of sexting and its connection to revenge porn, click here.

Join the Fight

Actively join the fight for healthy relationships and speak out against acceptance of revenge porn and cyberbullying among your friends and peers on social media, and in real life. Share articles like this one with a message about how harmful revenge porn is, and know what to do in case you see revenge porn posted or become a victim of revenge porn yourself.

Just as porn fuels the demand for sexual exploitation, sex trafficking, rape, and child exploitation, clicking on the stolen photos of these celebrities perpetuates sexual abuse and sustains the demand for this to happen to others.

Live Presentations

You wouldn’t want someone staring into your windows at night or stealing your phone and posting all your pictures online, right? So don’t support it when this violation happens to other people. Fight the fight against all sexual exploitation, including the humiliation of victims through cyberbullying and nonconsensually shared private images.

Related: Why Revenge Porn Is Not Just Celebrity Gossip, It’s A Societal Issue

Join us in fighting for love and healthy relationships, instead.

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