Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre McIvor: Smartphones kill privacy

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Teuila Blakely has been at the centre of a social media storm. Photo / Babiche Martens
Teuila Blakely has been at the centre of a social media storm. Photo / Babiche Martens

Boy am I glad I had my fun before cellphones were ubiquitous. As a girl attending a Catholic school, we were told to behave ourselves because God would be watching. As time went on, I figured God was more likely to be looking at the crisis in the Middle East than peering into the dark corners of a pub to see who I was pashing, but if the nuns had told us that everything we said and did could be recorded at any time and shared to the world, I would have been a lot more circumspect.

Most young adults engage in risky behaviour before they settle down under the yoke of mortgage, marriage and children but it's best if those days stay locked in the memory banks - you can gild memories; erase others; shape them as you wish. If you had video footage of the fun you had, it might not look like such fun in the cold light of day.

With the arrival of smartphones, we have to accept everything we do and say is in the public domain - and if what you do or say is interesting or appalling enough, it will go global. Forget about Big Brother watching us - it's the citizenry who've become spies and it's your mates who'll dob you in.

Warriors player Konrad Hurrell and Shortland Street actress Teuila Blakely became the centre of just such a social media firestorm when a video shot on a cellphone showing them engaging in a sexual act went viral. Blakely wasn't immediately identifiable as the woman in the video - for obvious reasons - but she 'fessed up when she was asked. What was she thinking? In fact, what on earth is anyone thinking filming themselves during sex? What do you do with the tapes - sit around together afterwards and review the action over a cup of tea?

Maybe some febrile young women think a leaked sex tape will catapult them to the same level of stardom as Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian - both of whose "careers", for want of a better word, were launched on the back of, well, their backs.

However, unlike Paris and Kim, most people don't look all that fabulous doing the deed - even fit young men and good-looking women. And if it's being filmed on a cellphone by an amateur whose mind is on other things, the shots and the angles aren't going to be that flash. Still, it was an act between two consenting adults and although it was idiotic to allow the video to become public, it's hardly a hanging offence. Far worse acts of morally reprehensible behaviour are committed every day.

The two of them have been punished for their lack of judgment. Hurrell has been fined $5000 by the NRL and ordered to undergo social media counselling and Blakely has been the subject of death threats, for heaven's sake, and lost a lucrative sponsorship deal. It seems bizarre that the couple's antics should have provoked so much controversy but it's a reminder that in the age of the smartphone, the private domain no longer exists and once your actions become public, everyone is a commentator.

• Kerre McIvor is on Newstalk ZB Monday-Thursday, 8pm-midnight.

- Herald on Sunday

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