There Is No “U” in Privacy – But There Is an “I”

September 02, 2014 / by / 14 Comments

All people have a right to privacy, unless you’re a famous, attractive woman.

One of the most notable parts of the recent photo hacking scandal is how Reddit and 4chan, the primary distribution outlets for these images, have responded to celebrities’ claims of privacy invasion. Across these sites, the response to these celebrities’ anger, and to people who sympathize with the victims, has largely been typified by victim-blaming (a problem we’ll discuss more later). “Don’t take the photos if you’re not okay with the world seeing them,” is the average (male) redditor’s opinion, in a nutshell. This in itself is a problem.

The idea that you should never do anything unless you’re okay with every pervert across the Internet knowing about it is fundamentally stupid. However, it becomes even more problematic coming from a community that clings to its own privacy with fierce intensity.

Post anything on Reddit or 4chan about government regulation and/or monitoring of Internet usage, or third-party data-tracking companies, and you’re sure to be met with a barrage of angry, incoherent posts about why privacy is the most important thing in the world and how “it all sounds like 1984.” Hell, just remember all the angry posts people fired off when news broke about Facebook’s “emotional contagion” experiment. For anyone to go on Reddit and suggest that what people do in the privacy of their own homes be fair game for the government, companies, or other parties to look at is to open the door to a never-ending stream of vitriol. However, ask these same people how they feel about the privacy of celebrities and, well – what’s going on speaks for itself. For the predominantly male users of Reddit or 4chan, their privacy is viewed as a right that ought to be safeguarded from violation. Yet the privacy of the predominantly female victims of this hacking scandal is widely treated as either nonexistent or frivolous by the same users.

Maybe this issue is borne out of bitterness towards celebrities for having privileges that the typical redditor can only dream about. Maybe it’s a belief in the difference between human-human privacy vs. human-government (or corporation) privacy. Or maybe (Hint: it’s this one) it’s the fact that reddit’s majority male user-base (74%) privileges itself over women, and subsections of the site, like the ones devoted to the “leak” (a.k.a. theft), have devolved into women-bashing, victim-blaming bastions of misogyny.

No matter the reason, it’s clear that – on Reddit and 4chan – there is no “U” in privacy.