WWE: Privacy in the Age of Social Media


Charlotte Flair was the latest WWE superstar to be affected by the release of private images and she won’t be the last.

The leaking of personal photos is nothing new for celebrities, with some even developing entire careers around such an incident. Prior to 2007, Kim Kardashian was known in socialite circles as merely a friend and stylist for fellow super rich person Paris Hilton. The now infamous sex tape turned Kardashian from obscure internet personality into one of the most recognizable people in the world. Your personal feelings aside, her widespread notoriety and influence is undeniable, for better or worse.

On the other hand, the images released during the “Fappening” (AKA Celebgate) scandal of 2014 involved such already high-profile members of Hollywood as Jennifer Lawrence, Kaley Cuoco, and Kirsten Dunst. In this instance, hackers took advantage of a flaw in Apple’s iCloud online storage platform that allowed specially designed software to make unlimited guesses for specific username and password combinations. As result of this hack, more than 500 nude photographs for a number of celebrities were shared on various websites and social media platforms.

Charlotte Flair has now joined Paige as the latest WWE victim when a number of her private photos were shared on the internet earlier this month. In the wake of the leaks, Charlotte released a statement asking for the photos to be removed immediately. Unfortunately, the internet is very much like a gun after firing a bullet; trying to stop the spread of information or images is all but impossible. Although I’m sure she released this statement on the advice of her publicist, I would have imagined the best thing to have said was nothing. Social media only works when people are actively discussing a topic and doing anything to keep that conversation going may unintentionally bring more attention than was desired.

Regardless of how we perceive them, celebrities and athletes share the same insecurities as the rest of us, some of them even more so. When your entire career is devoted to your appearance, even the slightest physical imperfection – real or imagined – can be the cause of stress and uncertainty. Some people argue that these leaks wouldn’t happen if celebrities simply didn’t take nude photos of themselves, but this argument can quickly devolve into a position of moral superiority that few (if any) of us are qualified to hold.

The bottom line is that people’s private photos are just that; private. Why they took the photos and for whom is literally none of our business but far too often our inherent curiosity gets the better of us. Without realizing it, we give credence to what these hackers are doing because they know there is at least a relatively small community of people who will click and post and share what they have done with no regard for the feelings of those involved. Avoiding these digital pitfalls involves forcing potential victims to change their personal behaviors as well as their use of technology, a solution that is both untenable and unrealistic.

Related Story: WWE: Charlotte Flair Issues Statement on Leaked Photos

Personally, I will never understand the obsession with celebrity nude photos or videos. I grew up in the 1980s, a time before the internet and the instant gratification it provides. As I traversed the uncomfortable wasteland known as puberty, I had to find creative ways to satisfy my curiosity surrounding sex. The internet adage Rule 34 dictates that if one searches enough, sexually-related material exists for any conceivable topic. This is both interesting and disturbing if we give it too much thought but shows that even with access to literally anything, some people choose to violate the privacy of others simply because they can. It is an unfortunate reality and unintended by-product of the social media age where we willingly share personal details about our daily lives but these details aren’t enough for some people who will go to extreme lengths to obtain more.