Privacy Double Standards: “Get Over It”

Guest Post: Ashley Wynstra, Media Commentator

As a society, we constantly critique celebrities because they’re public figures. They don’t get to complain about having their privacy invaded because that’s what they get for being rich and famous. We convince ourselves that it’s only fair to treat them as second-class citizens in the media because we simultaneously worship them in person. The same can be said for people we consider “scum.” People who have violated moral codes and societal rules aren’t seen as our equals when it comes to ethics. We don’t care about protecting the people who aren’t in the same class as us. When they have the audacity to complain about not having their privacy protected, we have one response:

“Get over it.”

If you Google the Ashley Madison hack, the top searches discuss which public figures were involved, the aftermath of the revelation of users, and details about the security breach. There’s no mention about the invasion of privacy. Why?

“Get over it.”

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Source: Static Flickr

Imagine waking up one morning and finding 100+ Facebook notifications. Your name is trending on Twitter and you’ve made national headlines. Your personal life is now under intense scrutiny and when you try to speak up to protect your privacy, you’re met with three words.

“Get over it.”

The intentions of the website Ashley Madison is another issue in and of itself. You might disagree with its purpose, but you can’t deny that rights were violated. Several individuals who lost their privacy killed themselves. Others were blackmailed. One town lost its mayor. These individuals made life choices that the majority of society disagrees with, and now they’re no longer considered part of the community, so we don’t protect them. There’s a double standard.

“Get over it.”

People were furious when the FBI asked Apple to unlock a terrorist’s cell phone because it might threaten the privacy of everyone else in the future. But how do we respond to the violation of privacy that we so strongly protect for ourselves when it doesn’t involve us?

“Get over it.”

We have a responsibility to protect everyone’s rights, regardless of their personal life choices. Those life choices never should have been revealed to begin with. As a community, we are not better off knowing who joined a website that encouraged affairs.

“Get over it.”

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Ashley Madison VS Donald Trump: Want VS Need to Know

Guest Post: Allison Dikanovic, journalism student

I sipped coffee on Sunday morning, scrolling through headlines instead of working on my media ethics presentation. Suddenly, I felt the coffee churning violently in my stomach as I watched a video of a major presidential candidate flaunt his ability to sexually assault women without repercussion.

Though not surprised, I felt a breed of contempt for Donald Trump that I had yet to experience in such a personal way.

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Source: The Washington Post 10.10.16

Despite my anger and hurt, I couldn’t help but think that I am happy the whole country is watching this. I am happy that we can hear and watch those words come from his mouth and deal with how horrible that feels. If all of Trump’s hateful comments over this past year have failed to put up red flags in voters’ heads, then this finally might. This is something people need to hear.

That was when the concept of “need to know” vs. “want to know” made sense to me. I thought of the journalists’ decision to publish that video.

This information was necessary for public knowledge beyond personal curiosity or desire to gossip. The journalists were obligated to publish it because it is reflective of Trump’s character. Knowledge of character is necessary when the person may quite possibly be elected to the most highly esteemed office in our country.

In November, we will not only be electing an individual. We will elect the systems and structures that each stands for and hopes to perpetuate or change. Voters need to know if one of the primary candidates explicitly and boldly supports an oppressive, patriarchal rape culture that devalues half of the country’s population.

The response I had to the video also provided insight into how I viewed our case study, the Ashley Madison data breach. Utilizing Rawls’s veil of ignorance, I can see reasons why I would have hesitated to release the names of registered Ashley Madison members if I was a journalist assigned to cover the hack. I understood that in most cases, it was a “want to know” matter.

However, for Trump, it is incredibly difficult and could even be considered unethical to employ the veil of ignorance. The behavior of Ashley Madison members affected select individuals, whereas Trump’s behavior could affect every single person I saw when I looked around that coffee shop on Sunday morning and every person I’ve seen since.

 

Lands’ End Misses the Mark, Falls Flat for Feminism

Guest post by: Haley Koren, Strategic Communication Critic

By no surprise, a lovely feature article in Lands’ Ends catalog featuring feminist powerhouse Gloria Steinem was pulled in late February 2016. This article, as many soccer moms and PTA warriors alike, insinuated that Lands’ End promoted abortion. While I did understand the ethical dilemma at hand that Lands’ End faced, I do not think that they should have pulled the advertisement. In pulling the advertisement, it inherently admitted guilt and placed itself on a side of an ethical drama they were obviously blissfully ignoring.

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Media source: The Blaze 04.19.12

Unfortunately for Lands’ End, it as a company got in this situation. I am unsure as to why Lands’ End believed that was not placing itself in the center of a controversy or was about to create one. Ethically, this was well-intentioned, as were it was so terribly embarrassed of its feature that it ended up pulling it to save face. On the other side of the coin, the cynic in me thinks that Lands’ End developed this campaign to create controversy and restore interest in the brand. While this cynicism is hopefully misguided there have been many companies in the past that have behaved in this manner.

I am always truly surprised by the fact that both men and women care so much about the choices that do not even touch them. Instead, they are preoccupied with the fact that their religion entitles them to tell others what and what not to believe. This is a personal passion of mine, as I do believe that every woman has the right to adequate healthcare, this includes abortion. My ethical dilemma came from the fact that, while reflecting on our case study, I truly felt disdain for Lands’ End as a brand. I did not respect the fact that Lands’ End pulled the advertisement. I felt as if it made it look like a spineless brand. Instead of being able to back up what they published, in this case an interview with Gloria Steinem, a feminist icon and trailblazer, they pulled the feature. This is true admission not only of ignorance, but of sheer fear of consumer power. This is why I find Lands’ End to be entirely unethical.