Once you click that button, once you hit record, it’s out there. That not-so-wholesome snap of you which was for your beloved’s eyes only. That action-packed video you playfully took with your boyfriend never meant to be sent to anyone. That and more—once it’s documented, it’s out there. And once it’s out there, there’s no taking it back.

The likes of Rihanna, Scarlett Johansson, and Jennifer Lawrence have learned this the hard way. Even the numerous girls who jumped in the sack with Hayden Kho finally figured out what the moral of the story is. Lawrence perhaps gained an even bigger following after The Hunger Games when her nudes meant only for her then boyfriend’s eyes got leaked all over the internet.

“It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you,” Lawrence said in her defense in an interview with Vanity Fair. He was looking alright, he and a million other hungry ones, feasting on her twins and her well-guarded secret revealed between her spread eagled legs.

She was devastated of course, who wouldn’t be? Unless you’re a Playboy Bunny wannabe looking for a big break, that is. Some actually welcome such “bad” publicity, because bad publicity is still publicity. As for Lawrence, she didn’t sign up for this.

And while she may be a victim, she’s also a celebrity. Before she took a bite of the serpent’s apple, she must have known that people will not only nibble on what she has to offer, they will devour her. It may sound too harsh, and perhaps I speak so brazenly because I haven’t been a victim of such a crime (I don’t think anyone would bother anyway), but it is the reality of the business. A reality that had chased a princess to her death and driven several others to overdose on pills, hoping it will send them to Ever After.

But Lawrence is not Snow White. She isn’t so naïve to not know that stardom has its perks and also its poisons. I am by no means blaming her for her status or her actions. Celebrity is not a crime. It’s something to celebrate. And when she stepped under the limelight, she didn’t ask for her private life and her er… private parts to be under the spotlight. Unfortunately for her, it comes with the territory.

Having said that, does it make it right? Of course not. It’s a crime, a “violation” and “disgusting” as Lawrence would put it. Careless as she may have been, she still doesn’t deserve what happened to her. No one does. And like her I believe that “the laws need to be changed.” Privacy laws, porn laws, copyrights, and other such laws have been enforced to protect people from being exploited and violated through their photos. Many other celebrities have threatened to sue Google for US$100 million for posting private photos. A 10-year federal prison sentence is in store for those guilty of accessing protected computers without authorization, damaging protected computers, wiretapping, and aggravated identity theft.

Over at District 12, investigators have issued a warning that anyone caught posting the stolen photos of their prized archer will be persecuted. The warnings and the threats have been made known and yet thousands of her nude images—both real and fake—remain on the Internet for everyone to see.

The sad truth is, even with all these laws, photo hacking continues to be prevalent. Even if these sites have taken the pictures down, there are many who have already copy/pasted, shared, and even tampered with it. Many have been inspired, ‘shopping her face and superimposing it on luscious bodies in compromising positions. Most important of all, millions have already seen. The damage has been done.

How many of you reading this will go and Google her nude photos if you haven’t yet? I did, for research purposes, of course, but I won’t be a hypocrite to say that I wasn’t curious. Does that make me a “perpetrator of sexual offense?” More importantly, does hearing Lawrence say “you should cower with shame” make you stop from looking?

“I didn’t tell you that you could look at my naked body,” lashes out Lawrence. But people will look if there is something to see. If there is a peeping hole with a sign over it that says, “Don’t look,” how many of you would actually NOT look?

Sergei Kholodovskii, the worm of the Web responsible for exposing private celebrity photos, shamelessly says in The Sun interview: “If there are more pictures to post, we will post them.” And they will post, because people are looking and searching.

But how does this apply to us mere mortals? Just because we don’t bask in the limelight doesn’t mean we’re immune to the ruin brought about by photo hacking. Maybe nobody would bother getting into our account because we’re not that interesting enough, but a message sent to the wrong person can just as easily destroy your life. Before sending that intimate photo to your boyfriend, think. And think again. Your hunnybunny today may be your enemy tomorrow. And an enemy with your nude photo is bad news.

If we do decide to take such intimate photos, maybe we need to take some accountability. We can learn a thing or two from our shamed stars. If you take photos with your iPhone, keep in mind that all your images are backed up by iCloud and a brute force attack on your password can easily crack your security. You may also want to be mindful about sharing your personal information, because something as seemingly harmless as sharing the name of your pet or your son’s birthday (you may not be directly sharing it, but greeting your son “Happy 5th birthday, big boy!” on Facebook on the day itself is a dead giveaway) can be used to get into your account. And while we’re at it, do you think it’s smart to use your son’s birthdate as a password?

Sure it’s a hassle to have to remember a password with numbers and symbols and a capitalized letter, but if you have some intimate secrets you do not wish to share, then it’s worth the extra effort. Also use different passwords for different accounts so when one gets hacked, you do not have to worry about the others. An ounce of precaution can go a long way. Listen to Lawrence when she demanded that the laws be changed: “We need to change.”

About The Author

Candy Lykes
freelance writer/editor/photographer

Candy Villanueva-Lykes is a widely published writer and photographer here and abroad. Candy Villanueva-Lykes is a planet surfer, word weaver, pixel stitcher, light chaser, sun worshipper, and forever shaking off the sand between her toes.