Of private recordings and privacy in the digital age




This past week we learnt of another “leaked” sex tape. It would seem, not that one is counting, we are having those every other day. Every morning people are waking up to find out about another scandal in the ever popular tabloids and on the social media: cheating spouses caught in the act; teachers, priests, pastors, ministers and bosses caught up in one form of disgrace or another. Somehow in the digital age where these stories are backed up by media such as high resolution pictures or cellphone videos of the culprits in flagrante delicto the stories have quite the profound effect that was lacking in the previous analogue years.

It is now reasonable to make the assumption that you are being watched even when in places where you have a reason to expect privacy. It will save you from a lot of pain and embarrassment or even ruin. Does the hotel room you like to visit have cameras in the rooms? Should and would they disclose this fact? Cameras are everywhere in supermarkets, in parks, ATMs have them and, most importantly, most phones have them. Big Brother is watching, waiting for when you fall from grace, he is everywhere and he is everyone.


Nowadays people have handy cell phones to record whatever event catches their fancy especially in public places. Tabloids who are well aware of this fact have often employed and reportedly encouraged people to contact them whenever an incident that is taking place can be considered a “scoop” in return for payment. At a glance this seems to be an igneous way of getting news since it means the publications have ears and eyes everywhere. Until you are on the receiving end of the story that is.

While everything that happens in the public sphere can be considered news I cannot help but feel some of the stories that have been finding their way into the public domain can be considered scandals themselves. A la Rupert Murdoch scandal.This is actually a subtext of the present imbroglios of leaked sex tapes: pictures and videos of otherwise private matters have been finding their way into the media from all sources of places: Jilted lovers shaming their partners by publishing pictures of their private misdeeds, jealous neighbours bringing their fellow neighbours to ruin and other such sordid tales being published by all sorts of people. It seems some people have found the perfect form of revenge-tabloids and the social media. Whatever happened to not washing your dirty laundry in public? Whatever happened to common decency?

When it comes to life in the digital age there are three universal truths you should know:

  1. Everyone has a skeleton in their cupboards or at least something they would rather the world would not know. If you find yourself denying this fact you should add lying to your list of faults.

  2. People derive sadistic pleasure from discovering the faults and failings of others for all people, whatever their foible nature, have a universal affinity for things perverse;for gore. It’s only that in those we call good this desire takes the form of velleity.

  3. Digital technology has turned the world into one global village. They say things go viral or spread like fire on the internet but that is quite the understatement; virus and fire are snail paced when compared to the internet. Once you post that embarrassing photo of yourself it would not be as easy to take it back.

We have a whole industry that is dedicated to expose people’s secrets. The reason why tabloids are so popular is because they feel this need within us. Some of these exposés have nothing to do with public dereliction of duty nor are they in the public’s interest. Apart from humiliating and ruining some individuals they serve no other useful purpose but to entertain. Most border on libellous or even illegal but most of the victims are either too scared to fight or just want it all to be over.

If you do not want to be caught in this drag net here is some advice:

  1. Avoid doing anything embarrassing in public. If you are a couple do not fight or put up a scene because they are watching and on a slow news days you might make it to the front page.

  2. Never take photos or videos of your intimate moments otherwise you will live to regret it.

  3. If you must have naughty media on your phone then please use encryption. ( In the next instalment will we take a detailed look on these.)

  4. Always have leverage on your ex. You should exchange material and make sure you are not the only one sending “stuff.” That way you will be assured s/he will not be tempted to expose you.

  5. Never post intimate material of yourself onto social networking sites or the internet.

It is fun to read about these “leaked” material about people’s lives until one day it is your material that is being exposed. I believe there is a reason our thoughts are private; there is a reason why you cannot even read your wife or husband’s thoughts even though you are “one flesh.” Some things are just private.

Remember just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean that they are not out to get you.

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3 thoughts on “Of private recordings and privacy in the digital age

  1. lol, try telling that to these “actors”… people are inherently stupid, how can you record yourself having sex? onto a cellphone for that matter i defies all possible logic. because u carry your phone with you all the time, transferring stuff is easy. just curious, i have never seen a leaked video of a married couple…. not to be riding on a moral high horse.. but some things should be respected and best left to the marriage bed… coz motinyadzisa

  2. Hahaha, I always tell people to encrypt their memory cards if they got potentially “hazardous” material on their phones. As familiar with Android, there is an option to do so in your settings menu. So if someone does decide to “steal” your phone, the thieves will have a hard time trying to use the data on the memory card.

    May slow down your phone but hey, either your secret is “safe” or your backside is on YouTube!

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