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Hackers published intimate photos of famous celebrities online. But are those viewed them also to blame?

Hackers published intimate photos of female celebrities online this weekend, without the proper permission.

The celebrities, including Kate Upton, Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and Ariana Grande, had each stored the photos in their personal iCloud accounts, which is an online data storage service provided by Apple.

According to Vox, the photos were originally seen on 4chan, an early Internet forum infamous for its image sharing.

Now, the FBI is looking into the matter, trying to identify the specific hackers. And experts say that everyone should be mindful of how hackers can share private information online.

But the main question in the wake of the whirlwind that surrounds the photos remains — who is to blame?

The question may be simple, but the answer is complicated.

The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway compiled a list of reactions to the event she found online. One person she quotes in the article, New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo, compares the controversy to the banking industry.

When your bank account is hacked, Manjoo explains in a tweet, it doesn’t mean you should complain about having an account in the first place. You just file a claim with the bank, wait for them to complete the investigation, and get your money back.

But overall, that argument falls flat. Even if the photos are eventually removed from the Internet and the buzz dies down, the event still ocurred.

“I once lost $300 at an ATM in Mexico. Took me a few months to get the money back,” Hemingway wrote. “But I got the money back. Other than the time, I was made whole. How does one ‘get back’ the photos of your naked body?”

While money may be more easy to replace, Hemingway argues that a person's pride and privacy, especially for something so intimate, is not.

However, the leaked images don't just affect the people in the photos. They also affect the people who view the photos.

The Pew Research Center unveiled a list of top moral issues that people face. Infidelity and extra-marital affairs topped the chart at 78 percent, with a recent study linking sexting — or even looking at naked photos — to infidelity.

And The Good Men Project’s James Fell wrote that viewing these photos without the explicit permission of each of the women would be a form of violation.

"If you have a peek and consider it no big deal, it normalizes the behavior for you," Fell wrote. "It makes violating people’s privacy, in a sexual way no less, something that you don’t worry about. It makes it feel like you have the right to do so."

But it’s no question there are some who did look at the photos and spread the message about their existence out to the world.

So are they to blame for this as much as the hackers are?

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The Atlantic’s Jessica Valenti says yes. By looking at photos, people are contributing to the problem, Valenti wrote. They’re acknowledging what the hackers did and creating a metaphysical idea or image of these celebrities that can never really be undone.

“Even if we’re not the people who stole the pictures, and even if we’re not publishing them on blogs or tweeting them out, looking at naked photos of someone who doesn’t want us to goes beyond voyeurism; it’s abuse,” Valenti wrote.

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @herbscribner

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