The Internet SuperStar Killed Privacy

By: Ray Dozier, APSU Communication Student

In today’s world, the internet superstar has exploded. You can become famous overnight just by uploading a picture of your crazy looking pet, or because of a funny video you made. Let’s create a scenario here. You are the next big thing, and you’re getting millions of ‘hits’ daily. Your social media accounts are maxing out on people you can follow back because there are so many adding/following/subscribing. Ok, now that you’ve built a decent following because of this, they want to meet you, hang out with you, BE YOU.

You share your location multiple times around town, maybe even while at home, or those who knew you before this ‘fame’ share your address/personal information, and you have to change your number and move to the moon. This could have all been avoided if you had held back some of what you revealed. People love watching the lives of other people, because it lets them see that their life isn’t as bad as they may have thought. After this, though, privacy gets thrown by the wayside. With apps like Twitter and Facebook that require you to use your current location for an increasing amount of features,

it’s easy to be swept under the pile of location pins you’re placing.

Something that I’ve learned this semester, is that privacy used to be “binary—it was something you had or something you did not” (Patterson, P., & Wilkins, L.. 2014. P. 109,) and one of the main reasons conceived by Helen Nissenbaum is that “social media and other forms of technology have erased the public-private dichotomy” (Patterson, P., & Wilkins, L.. 2014. P. 109.)  With this in mind, you always have to think about the interests of those involved when withholding or disclosing information. Someone may have stalking tendencies, and will do anything to get as close to you as possible. What if someone disagreed with what you said and wanted to confront you? What if they saw something you showed in your house that they wanted to steal? These are questions to keep in mind when broadcasting yourself as the Internet Superstar.

Because of the work of William Prosser, the laws of privacy break down into a few different parts:

-invading privacy, like with a person’s house or personal belongings,

-false light—like if someone wrote a book about Donald Trump with false info and tried to make money off it/or the media attention it got,


-misappropriation, the using of an image to sell things without consent of the star in question.

But, not every U.S. state recognizes these (example, law of false light) and if they do, it’s not in the same way as the original definition. Times have changed and now facts that used to be secret are much more seen as “open to the public”. A social media personality has to be careful about what information they share. It is a cool thing to see someone sharing their (hopefully) unscripted life, but the ramifications could be harmful.

People fall into multiple categories: being limited and accidental public figures.

An example of the first: a person who was on the news for something, and the second, a teen who went viral because of a random social media post they made.

Things could become heated. You can become rich by winning a case against your privacy, but you’ll never get back exactly who you were before it all happened. Actual malice is looked for here by those deciding the fate. Did they mean to cause harm? Did a party legitimately try to do all they could within the confines of the law? A right to privacy today is hugely argued about, but it doesn’t ‘officially’ exist because it’s not mentioned in the constitution.

You have to be careful about who knows what about you.

Privacy to Constance Fischer infers that privacy is about creating other ‘personalities’ of yourself, without someone making fun of you for it. It should not be considered privilege, rather it’s a given and is, “a way of protecting oneself against the actions of other people” (Patterson, P., & Wilkins, L.. 2014. P. 112). This is the world we live in. Be careful what you post, friends. It is amazing to see who comes next in the Internet Star line-ups since it seems to happen every other day, but remember to keep yourself safe in the process.



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