The Celebrity Nude Photo Scandal: Who is at Fault?

The recent celebrity nude picture scandal has reignited the conversation about privacy and online sharing. Earlier this month, celebrities like Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence, discovered nude photos of themselves, some authentic, others not, plastered all over sites like 4chan and Reddit. It is still unclear how these photos were leaked but Apple’s iCloud has become the main culprit. This leak has sparked an FBI investigation as well as issues surrounding Reddit’s TheFappening community which housed many of these photos. I see two different camps forming, those that see stronger security as the answer and those that believe that people should be more conscious of what they digitize. I side with the latter; be more aware of what you save to the cloud.

As stated in a recent Time article, “we are all supposed to be solely responsible for our personal information” (Vertesi 2014). When people take nude photos or digitize anything private, they subject themselves to information leaks and hacking. Personal Information, which can span pictures to credit card information, in reality, is interpersonal (Vertasi 2014). Some may argue that their phones automatically update to the cloud, but people have the ability to opt out of this process. Jeff Schilling, chief security officer at FireHost says “people need to become more personally educated on what exactly they are enabling on their phone when they take pictures” (Mantle 2014). If we become more knowledgeable about our smart phone applications and settings, private items might remain private.

I believe that celebrities should know the risk they take when they pose for or send nude pictures. As public figures they are at an even greater risk and have more at stake. Yes, their privacy was violated, but stories such as the Target hacking scandal a few months ago, and the more recent Home Depot security breach are becoming commonplace. This is something we, as a society (individuals and organizations), need to consider before exposing confidential materials to the public cloud.

Where were these photos found? The iCloud? The Computer? We still don’t know. However, the fact of the matter is, these photos were found when they were supposed to be kept private. This in itself should change how we think about privacy and security. According to Jeff Kagan, an IT industry analyst, “companies and individuals, need to focus more on security when storing information in the cloud” (Gaudin 2014). However, the public and organizations aren’t solely to blame for breaches; we need to also keep in mind what kinds of technology hackers possess.

It is doubtful that this scandal will provoke greater action about privacy and security for public and private citizens and organizations alike. In my opinion, these scandals will continue to happen but only in greater frequency, because our behavior hasn’t changed. People like to place blame instead of taking their own action. This includes blaming an organization whose security system couldn’t stop a hacker or an individual who should have had a stronger password. There will always be tension between individuals who avoid best security practices and the companies that “protect” their information (Hill 2014). Until both parties work together to combat hackers, there will always be the assumption that someone else will take care of the problem.


Gaudin, Sharon. “Celebrity Nude Photos Scandal a Wake-up Call for Cloud Users.” Computerworld. N.p., 2 Sept. 2014. Web. 10 Sept. 2014.

Heist, Greg. “Privacy Is The New Black: How A Breakdown In Trust And The Battle For Privacy Will Shape The Future Of Insights (Part I).”GreenBook RSS. N.p., 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.

Hill, Kashmir. “Please Stop Saying ‘Celebs Shouldn’t Have Taken Nude Photos In The First Place'” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 1 Sept. 2014. Web. 10 Sept. 2014.

Mantle, Larry. “Celebrity Nude Photo Hack Brings to Question Safety of Cloud Storage.” KPCC. N.p., 2 Sept. 2014. Web. 10 Sept. 2014.

Vertesi, Janet. “Celebrity Nude Photo Hack Exposes Flaw In How We Think About Privacy and the Cloud.” Time. Time, Inc. Network, 2 Sept. 2014. Web. 10 Sept. 2014.