How Private Is Private?

Cam Cozzi  Over the past few months, the news has been filled with reports of celebrities being robbed or having their homes burglarized — this topic became extremely prevalent after the armed robbery of Kim Kardashian in Paris last fall. More recently, celebrities such as model Kendall Jenner and singer Alanis Morisette have also been victims of burglary. In many of the more recent robberies and burglaries, anywhere from $200,000 to upwards of $5,000,000 in property has been stolen. And, although it is believed that there is no connection between the recent string of celebrity robberies, many wonder whether or not these celebrities’ social media presence had anything to do with it. When scrolling through the feed of a celebrity — most of which have millions of followers on social media sites like Instagram — it is likely that you will come across plenty of photos of their lavish lifestyle, whether it be photos of the inside of their home or of expensive jewelry and cars. For Kim Kardashian, a celebrity who seems to be ever-present on social media, posting photos of expensive items is commonplace. While in Paris, Kim Kardashian posted a photo on Instagram flaunting her $4 million diamond ring — this being one of the items that the robbers were in search of, and eventually stole from her, when she was robbed later that night. After news of this robbery broke, many questioned whether Kim Kardashian could have protected herself from becoming a target had she been more careful on social media. Similarly, in the 2008 burglaries of celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Orlando Bloom, the burglars tracked the social media accounts of the celebrities in order to determine the best time to enter their home. Thus, these links between celebrities’ social media usage and their being targeted by robbers highlights concerns about how sharing posts on the internet could potentially put a person in danger. At Latin, social media usage is as popular as ever, and it is not uncommon to see posts on Instagram from multiple classmates each day. Yet, while Latin students’ posts typically feature friends or family — rather than the luxurious items displayed in celebrities’ posts that that often make them targets for robberies — most Latin students still feel that online safety is an important thing to keep in mind. Many students consider privacy to be a key factor in keeping themselves safe when using social media. Sophomore Hannah Korach, an avid Instagram user, explained that her page is always kept on the “private” setting because “it’s just safer that way.” Hannah also added that, unlike some, she “declines any follow requests from people that [she] doesn’t know.” Similarly to Hannah, most students keep their Instagram accounts private in order to prevent anyone that they don’t know from seeing their pictures or obtaining information about them. Some students, however, allow their Instagram pages to remain open to the public in order to gain followers, or simply because they are not concerned that people they don’t know could be looking at their photos. But, sophomore Henry Markarian warns that in leaving your page public you are allowing “any individual to be able to take your information.” Additionally, the recent spike in the popularity of students having a “finsta”, or fake Instagram, has raised questions about internet safety. The purpose of these accounts is for people to post funny photos and videos that will only be shared with the person’s closest friends, given that most people keep the number of followers on their “finsta” to a minimum. However, people often also use their “finsta” to share funny or embarrassing stories about themselves with their small group of followers. Yet to some, the idea of having an account full of your most personal information, no matter if it is a private account, seems like a bad idea due to skepticism about how private what you post on Instagram actually is. ]]>