Eye Spy: Private lives, public web
With social media permeating our lives and the ubiquity of camera surveillance, privacy seems to have become a luxury.
Emma Sadleir and Tamsyn de Beer, authors of Don't film yourself having sex and other legal advice for the age of social media, say the lines between private and public are increasingly blurring.
"Privacy is perhaps no longer a social norm and traditionally 'private' facts are routinely documented and shared" and as a result "it becomes more difficult to distinguish between private and public spaces," they write.
There is the infamous family spat between Jay-Z and his sister-in-law Solange Knowles, and recent video surveillance showed US f ootball player Ray Rice punching his then- fiancée and now wife, Janay Rice. Both incidents were filmed in a lift .
There is nothing wrong with these instances of violence being exposed, but when pictures taken for private use are no longer safe, we should worry about how private our private lives really are.
Roughly 101 stolen nude pictures of Hollywood celebrities, including Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, were released on the internet last month. These stolen celebrity photos were broadcast to millions of people around the world on a Reddit forum.
But all of us who use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are at risk, and the onus is on users to proactively protect their privacy.
South African Ngoako Mannya set up a Twitter account, quickly gained about 9000 followers - and lost her privacy.
She has had to learn to be the guardian of her life. "You are in control of your life, so if you want something private, it's up to you [to make sure it remains private]".
Georgetown University law professor Julie E Cohen argues that privacy is crucial. for "creating spaces for play and the work of self-[development]." We need spaces where we feel safe to be silly, angry and sexual.
In terms of online activity, Emma Sadleir and Tamsyn de Beer offer the following tips for protecting your privacy:
- Don't treat anything you put online as private. If you want it to be private, don't put it online;
- Have different passwords for different accounts and change them often to avoid being indecently exposed;
- Be wary of geo-locating;
- Activate the maximum privacy settings online - such as barring apps from accessing information from other apps/sites;
- Be considerate about the private information you post about other people as well.
- Sadleir and De Beer's book 'Don't film yourself having sex and other legal advice for the age of social media' (Penguin) R230