Notice (8): Undefined variable: meta_for_layout [APP/View/Layouts/default.ctp, line 25]
Abril Abstract

Global Institute for Freedom and Awareness

Collaborative Research on Institutional Dynamics in Open Societies

Public Disclosure of Private Facts in a Celebrity-Soaked World

Patricia Sanchez Abril, Associate Professor, Univ. of Miami School of Business Administration

Recent times have witnessed a series of global media circuses regarding the private matters of famous or noteworthy individuals. The increasingly intense spotlight on celebrities is a product of an information culture and economy fueled by ubiquitous camera phones, paparazzi, and social media - and in some instances, even celebrities' own self-disclosure. Some argue that a third party's broadcasting of traditionally-private issues such as marital strife, health concerns, or sexual proclivities is legitimate for a scrutinizing public's consumption. And yet, when an individual's private matters are involuntarily divulged to a widespread audience, others may ask: where is the line between the public's entitlement and the individual celebrity's privacy?

Although social media, technology, and tabloid culture have made this question especially germane to our time, it is not a new question. U.S. law has long struggled with the balance between freedom of speech and personal privacy. This struggle has played itself out in the jurisprudence of the U.S. tort of public disclosure of private facts. Conceived in a landmark law review article in 1890, the tort addresses instances when highly offensive and private facts are publicly disclosed in an unsanctioned manner. It requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant (1) gave publicity, (2) to a private fact, (3) that is not of legitimate concern to the public, where (4) such disclosure is highly offensive to a reasonable person. In its relatively short jurisprudential life, the tort has seen its share of polemic. Although the tort seems to be especially relevant today, some may legitimately wonder whether it is even alive. This paper will analyze the current law and ethics of celebrity privacy in our modern world.