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Celebrities: They’re Still People

Crossing the Invisible Privacy Barrier in Social Media

We’ve all had that one celebrity that we absolutely adore. Maybe it was your childhood crush (Jesse McCartney, anyone?), maybe it was that character on that one show that you really connected to, or maybe it was the singer from your favorite band. Either way, we’ve all been there, and we’ve all dreamed of becoming closer to that person and actually being on the receiving end of their attention.

In the olden’ days, you used to cover every square inch of your room in posters that you acquired from Tiger Beat magazine (okay, I’m not that old, so this is what I did), you would annoy your friends with constant talk about said celebrity, and maybe you even wrote them a letter or two. But you and that celebrity were still two separate entities seemingly worlds away. Now, though, in the age of social media, celebrity and fan find it much easier to connect, and this opens a whole new can of worms.

Twitter and Instagram are glorious things. Not only do they allow you to keep tabs on your own friends, but they also allow you insight into the lives of celebrities. Suddenly the actress behind that character doesn’t seem so distant. Suddenly you know what they did Friday night. That one singer in your favorite band? Yeah, maybe he shared a picture of his pet dog Fido. Suddenly, you are able to get a glimpse into this person’s life, and it’s amazing. It makes these people seem a little less strange and a little more real, and dare I say it, almost like friends. It makes them seem more down to earth.

But while social media can be a glorious thing, it can also be a nightmare, and it is no longer just the paparazzi that celebrities have to worry about. Nowadays, there is an alarming increase of cases in which fans hack into a celebrity’s iCloud and steal photos, and within a matter of a few short hours, it is as if the entire world has seen said photos. Cases of a celebrity’s Instagram or Twitter accounts being hacked aren’t rare occurrences now, either. It seems that the line between what is and isn’t all right is blurring, and fans are overstepping the invisible boundary that, whether you want to acknowledge it or not, still remains even in the age of social media.

Sometimes, the line between fan and something more (perhaps something verging a bit on the side of stalking even if you don’t intend it to be) begin to blend. Sometimes, fans take the privilege that social media offers them and exploit it.

So this begs a few questions: What is okay? How do I know if I’m crossing that ever-so blurry line of what is and isn’t acceptable?

The answer is simple: Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if someone was doing this to you?

To lay down some basic guidelines, let’s go with this:

  • You do not have permission to access things that celebrities are not providing you with. If they didn’t give you their account information, then you have no right to get into their account. If they didn’t provide you with a photo, then you have no right to post that photo.
  • Never share anything that you aren’t supposed to know. A celebrity’s family life, relationships, sexuality is theirs and remains theirs. If they share something on social media, then so be it.
  • Did you find their Facebook? Are you searching it? If so, it’s probably safe to assume that that’s not all right. Are you finding their friends on Facebook or Twitter or another form of social media? Are you perusing through their pages to find photos of a certain celebrity? Yeah, how about you just close that tab right now and listen to a song or something.
  • Are you searching through the accounts of a celebrity’s significant other? Are you trying to expose something or perhaps get the rumor mill turning? Leave it be and maybe read a book instead.

The truth is, celebrities don’t owe us a thing. They gift us with their talent already, and anything more is extra. They are the one, and only one, who can decide to share or not to share personal information. They can reveal as much or as little as they want, and that is something that we, as fans, should respect. A celebrity’s private life is not our business, and we are in no way entitled to know about a celebrity’s private life. When they became famous they never had to sign on a dotted line giving away the rights to their privacy. Celebrities are still human, after all, and they deserve the same kind of human decency that you would want to be treated with.

By all means, get excited when you see that a celebrity has posted a new photo. Hit that like button. Praise their work. Interact with them. But know that there is still a boundary that we cannot cross even when using social media.

Written by Allison Schonter

Binger of TV. Writer of words. Forever daydreaming about fictional characters. My current obsessions include The 100, The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead, and Wynonna Earp. So go ahead and talk to me about those.

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