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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


First daughter’s selfie sparks privacy concerns

The Internet entered a state of frenzy after a private photo of one prominent figure leaked online.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the White House is investigating how a private picture of President Barack Obama’s 16-year-old daughter Malia appeared online. The picture was shared on the Instagram page of a Brooklyn hip-hop group known as Pro Era — in the picture, Malia is wearing a promotional t-shirt for the group.

The International Business Times has further declared that Pro Era is using Malia’s picture as a means of promotion for their group.

representative for one of the members of Pro Era — Joey Badass, more commonly known as Joey Bada$$ — said the image was shared with the group by “a mutual friend of Malia and the Pro Era member.” Although there is still some uncertainty as to whether or not the girl in the picture is actually Malia, there is strong evidence to believe that it is her.

The female shown in the photograph sports the same double-pierced ears as Malia. It is also reasonable to believe that Malia is a fan of Pro Era since she was spotted at Lollapalooza after a performance by Chance the Rapper.

There are a number of reasons why this leaked photo is a matter of discussion, debate and concern. First and foremost, Joey Bada$$ is likely not to be the type of individual that Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama would want their daughter supporting.

Bada$$, whose real name is Jo-Vaughn Jalani Virginie, was arrested by Byron Bay Police at the Falls Music Festival after allegedly punching a security guard in the face. Considering the conservative attitude the Obamas maintain during publicized events, it can be safely assumed that they would not approve of their daughter supporting this group.

Another, more important reason is that Malia and her 13-year-old sister Sasha have an extremely limited presence on social media.

Michelle said in an interview with Barbara Walters, which was published in 2013 in People Magazine, that of her two daughters, only Malia has access to social media sites such as Facebook.

“I still am not a big believer in Facebook for young people,” Michelle said. “Particularly for (my daughters), because they’re in the public eye.”

Obama and Michelle have always attempted to keep their daughters out of the public eye as much as possible. According to the Houston Chronicle, Michelle sent out a complaint in 2009, shortly after Obama’s inauguration, to an Illinois company known as Ty Inc that named some of its Beanie Babies after Malia and Sasha.

The question that now arises is whether or not Malia and Sasha should be entitled to their privacy, despite their position as the First Daughters.

“I do not think they should be entitled to privacy,” said broadcast journalism senior Christina Caballero. “Whether they think so or not, they are kind of viewed like celebrities. And they knew that once their father became a public figure, the most famous public figure in the world, they would be photographed.”

However, Malia and Sasha didn’t choose to become part of the public eye.

Obama chose to run for President. He was well aware that his every move would be discussed and scrutinized because of his position, but the same cannot be said for his daughters. Malia and Sasha had no choice in the career their father chose; therefore, they should be treated as any normal teenager.

“Social media is now the norm when it comes to communication,” said public relations graduate student Armand Viscarri. “However, there is a large difference between using social media for communication and using a personal picture for promotional purposes.”

When Malia took the picture wearing the Pro Era t-shirt, she didn’t take it with the intention of sharing it with the entire world. What Pro Era did by posting her picture on their Instagram page was exploitative.

It should not matter that she is the President’s daughter, because first and foremost, she is a teenage girl that deserves the same privacy as anyone else.

Opinion columnist Trishna Buch is a print journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected].

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