The internet sucks today.
If you spend any time at all on social media, it can't have escaped your attention that a number of private photographs of a number of people (all but one, women) have been stolen and maliciously distributed over the internet via Twitter and the web cess pools that are 4Chan and Reddit. We've chosen not to mention the names of those who have been affected by this out of respect for their privacy and our interest for the purposes of this column this isn't in the the photos but in the internet and wider media's attrocious reactions to the event.
It may sound silly chosing not to name names given they're so widely being mentioned, but it's a matter of principle. These were photos taken in privacy and despite their hack we think the right thing for anyone to do would be to respect that privacy. They weren't leaked but maliciously stolen, reportedly by a hacker from Apple's iCloud. In many cases the subjects believed that these images were deleted and no longer available and frankly its up to them what they do. We shouldn't care.
Unforunately, any chance of privacy for these people has been trashed by the rush to report the names and other details of those affected. We notice that very little mention is made of the man who had his pictures distributed and most reports have focussed on one individual encouraging those who may have had no idea that something had happened to go seek out the images themselves.
Next up is the disturbing trend of some people to switch to victim blaming. Instead of admonishing those who had broken the law and invaded people's privacy, there have been many who have instead blamed the victims for having the pictures taken in the first place and for having them online. This forgets the fact that many images are uploaded automatically now and once in the cloud are very hard to delete. Again we should remember that these were private photos and no one ever thought or intended for them to enter the public domain. Victim blaming is a real problem and one we shouldn't be ignoring - expect plenty of columns in the press over the next couple of days that fall foul of this very real problem.
Then there's the response to the photos being sent directly to those who were affected. Crude, offensive and disgusting comments being sent via Twitter directly to people who have already had their privacy so massively destroyed in the worst way. They're already feeling violated and yet then are subject to a tirade of disgusting abusive language and threats. The same has happened to anyone with any real profile who has stood up to defend those who have suffered from the hack or the subsequent abuse.
We're not linking to any of this stuff - for the simple reason that we don't think it's right to fan the flames and give the scum the attention they clearly crave. If there IS one thing that the events of the weekend have shown, its that there is a huge swathe of society that has no respect for anyone's privacy, feelings OR safety and thinks nothing of persistently abusing and attacking those that are vulnerable.
We only have to look back a few weeks to see just how little we know about what people in the spotlight have to contend with in their lives. The tragic suicide of Robin Williams is evidence if ever we needed it that even the most outwardly vibrant and amiable people can be suffering in ways we can't see. Torrential abuse, can have a massive and terrible affect on anyone from any one of us to anyone in the public eye.
Today I feel ashamed to be a human being.