Social Question

canidmajor's avatar

Did he have an expectation of privacy?

Asked by canidmajor (3861 points ) March 30th, 2014

A man met a woman at a small gathering of people who are all members of an organization. They did not converse directly, but were both part of the same group conversation. The next day he got her email address from the organization’s records and sent her a sexually suggestive email. She then posted it on the (closed) group Face Book page, did NOT identify him, and expressed disgust at this missive. A number of the male responders said that she shouldn’t have posted it as he had “an expectation of privacy”.
Do you agree that he did? Why or why not?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

47 Answers

Coloma's avatar

If someone is going to make a clearly, inappropriate choice, well….they deserve to be exposed. I wouldn’t have publicly posted the email on FB, that is passive aggressive, but I certainly would have fired off an email back explicitly telling the jerk to fuck off and then I would contact the “organization” to let them know of his misconduct and deceptive means of obtaining my email address from their record base and its unsavory and sexually harassing content.

Woe be the poor fool that messes with me. I will fillet you like a Salmon and lay out your pathetic carcass for the Eagles. lol

canidmajor's avatar

She did notify the organization and send him an email telling him not to contact her. The question is specifically “Did he have an expectation of privacy?”, which is what I am interested in exploring here.

GloPro's avatar

He can expect whatever he wants. Obviously what he was hoping for, or expecting, as no one sends any sort of sexual proposal to get shot down, was not what happened. He sounds like he is creepy anyway. Men need to go back to introducing yourself and asking a woman out with respect, in person or by phone.

Bottom line, his expectation was to get laid using a creepy method. I would not have posted it on Facebook. That was unnecessary.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Yes, he had a right to an expectation of privacy. However, given that people have interpreted the effortlessness of copy/paste as an empowerment to make public everything ever sent to them, that expectation was unrealistic. People are assholes about private correspondence now.

hearkat's avatar

Are you asking: “Did he have an expectation of privacy?” OR “Is he right to have an expectation of privacy?”

In the first case, no one but the person in question can answer. I would speculate that he did expect privacy, because he clearly violated HER rights and expectations of privacy – which in my opinion means that he has NO right to expect privacy when he clearly does not respect the same for others.

Coloma's avatar

There is no such thing as an expectation of privacy when one is duplicitous in their methodology.
If you’re going to do something of questionable nature, well…IMO, you give up all rights to “expect” privacy.
I agree with @hearcat.

canidmajor's avatar

@hearkat perhaps I should have included the word “reasonable”. I used the phrase as it is most often used in conversation, generally referring to a social behavioral contract. For example, if I send an email to a friend who has given me their address and has encouraged me to contact them, then I have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Coloma's avatar

@canidmajor In theory yes, but in reality, no.
Whatever we say or write is subject to be shared or repeated by the receiving party, like it or not.
It may effect and/or, potentially ruin a relationship if someone shares what we consider personal information shared with an expectation of privacy, but…if you don;t want to risk your privacy being taken advantage of, then you simply do not share.
For example. I will not lie or cover up for anyone, sooo…if you choose to tell me you’re having an affair, friend or not, I have no obligation to keep damaging information to myself.

If one chooses to out another in a particular position, well….that is a risk you are willing to take and it could go either way, but don;t be surprised if the receiving party chooses to tell all.

marinelife's avatar

Once sent the email became hers to do with what she wanted. If he had an expectation of privacy, it was before he got her email address by illicit means and contacted her, disgusting!!!!

janbb's avatar

If one is sexually harassing another person, one should have a reasonable expectation that the harassment may be exposed.

Afos22's avatar

If she did not release the name, then I believe her actions were not inappropriate…. On the other hand, one email is not harassment.

LuckyGuy's avatar

By posting the suggestive missive on FB she showed all her ‘friends’ that she, herself, is not to be trusted. They all will remember that part of the incident long after they forget the specifics of the email.
She tried to show he was stupid, rude, crude, etc., but she proved herself untrustworthy.

Coloma's avatar

@LuckyGuy Agreed also. I almost mentioned that aspect too. Good observation Watson.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

@LuckyGuy This is one of the few times I strongly disagree with you. Trust is involved with shared experiences/secrets. This woman was the victim of intrusive behavior. She has every right to speak up for herself and make unwelcome, uninvited contact known to whomever she desires. When someone makes contact with someone who has not invited them to interact, there is no assumption of trust. There is no devotion to anyone who has no previous personal involvement With no relationship in place, why should anyone expect trust?

Coloma's avatar

@Jonesn4burgers You make a good point as well. I’d have just gone with my original response and called the guy out and taken my own affirmative action.

LornaLove's avatar

I agree with the protest and exposure, the thinking that women should shut the hell up when violated (by email) is the wrong route to go. Good for this woman who doesn’t take sh!t.

GloPro's avatar

Considering that we don’t know what the email said it’s hard to say she was violated. That’s a bit strong. Hell, I get penile enlargement spam every day, and that’s probably just as offensive. My guess is that if it were so sexually explicit as to make her uncomfortable she would have been smart enough to do more than post it on FB.
She responded to his email and told him not to contact her, and informed the organization of her wishes. Posting it on FB and publicly shaming him was not necessary. I didn’t think about my feelings toward someone that publicly shames others on social media until @LuckyGuy brought it up, but he’s right. I don’t have good feelings toward someone that airs dirty laundry. If the email was that offensive she could have taken more appropriate measures.
I agree that one email from a loser does not qualify as harassment.

LornaLove's avatar

@GloPro Yes that is true, we don’t know what the email said. So, it does rest on that. I also think spam and porn spam is a violation by the way and those adverts. I have a very low tolerance for disrespect towards fellow humans, male or female, but sexual predators deserve exposure. He sounded like a predator to me.

GloPro's avatar

Maybe his shitty tactic has worked on lesser women in the past. I agree it’s a creep move, but I would firmly respond that he was out of line and leave it at that.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

The reason she posted the email contents on Facebook notwithstanding, on the Internet you should never expect privacy. Even if he felt he was giving it to her as ”your eyes only”, anyone smart enough or a mistake by her sending it to another, it is out there like so much fruit waiting to be exposed. Anything sent over the Net, unless a secured closed server, is about expecting to have privacy on a crowded bus while opening racy jpegs of your wife or woman friend

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

NO. A thousand times no.
EMAIL IS NOT PRIVATE. Not even a little bit. Unencrypted email is super not private in that it’s ridiculously easy for a third party to intercept.

If you send someone an encrypted email, and you have a prior agreement with that person to keep such communications on the D/L, then you have an expectation of privacy. Not a legally-actionable expectation (probably, IANAL), but an arguably-reasonable one.

If you send a pervy email to a near-stranger, expect that it will be published and ridiculed. If you send such an email to a near-stranger unsolicited, having acquired the email address without the person’s knowledge or consent, then you’re acting creepy. It seems to me that this person has received better treatment than he deserved.

marinelife's avatar

@LuckyGuy You are so wrong. She was assaulted by an un-asked for email. What she did with it was not untrustworthy. She owed the sender no trust.

janbb's avatar

@marinelife I agree with you.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Don’t know what the e-mail said?!?! OP said sexually suggestive. Are you splitting hairs how much sexual content or suggestion is enough to be offensive? So far as I’m concerned, unwanted is enough, but sexually-based unwanted is without question enough to make public. It was not openly posted on FB, just within the group. Suppose this unnamed group is AA. Do you want to go for help somewhere that another member can get your e-address and hit on you? Seriously!

GloPro's avatar

I’m sorry, there is a possibility that this will not come off as I intend, but here goes:
As a woman I am strong enough to deflect unwanted sexual attention without resorting to public shaming. I am able to deal with a man head-on, and if he was out-of-line I am able to deal with that, too. Some men are sleazy, and that’s just the way it is. Social media is not a target range. I prefer not to spread the bad stuff around. I wouldn’t want a bunch of catty women coming up to me men bashing, and I wouldn’t want men to think I was a frigid bitch likely to publicly humiliate them if they so much as show an interest in me.
It is most likely that men would read her publication of this guy’s email and agree that it is inappropriate and rude, but they would also never want to ask me out because they would see I have no problem with public humiliation of a man. Men like to keep relationship issues private, and publishing the first sexually explicit and out-of-line email she gets from this guy would say to me that for her, everything is gossip and out in the open. If he sent multiple emails after she told him not to do so, then there would be reason to call him out. One email? It’s nobody’s business and I think she is displaying that she wants attention and pity, or to show everyone that she cannot be fucked with. Poor me, a man was attracted to me and I need to put him in his place. Bye bye, ever being asked out again. I’m a vindictive woman who likes to get revenge! Why couldn’t she leave it at dealing with him head-on? I’m curious, to those who think it was an appropriate reaction: what is the motivation to do so?
This amounts to construction worker catcalls or inappropriate words in a club. She blew it WAY out of proportion, which I attribute to a negative aspect social media has brought to us. It just isn’t my style to publicly shame someone the first time they step out of line.

LuckyGuy's avatar

To those who said she was assaulted etc and I was wrong, etc., we do not know what the email said nor if there was flirty looks or discussion beforehand.
My gut reaction is the email should be dealt with privately first. She can easily reply : “I do not appreciate this… Do not do it again.” If that did not work then, and only then, would I bring in the heavy guns of FB, or whatever.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

If a man has a decent, presentable interest in me, he’d better approach me personally to express himself. This man DID have that opportunity. She had every right to rebuke him in the same manner she was approached. If a man wants me to respond to him privately, and in person, he should approach me in that manner. I have no problem shooting a man down privately. I’ve done it plenty. If he was going to the woman’s email uninvited, I can’t blame her for wanting to give a heads up to others that this behavior is going on.

canidmajor's avatar

Well, this seems to have gotten pretty far away from the original intent of the question, but since it has, I’ll address some of the concerns expressed here.
1. There was no “public shaming” as the sender was never identified.
2. I won’t replicate the email here, as this is an open forum, and frankly I see no need. Suffice to say that I would hope the readers here would take my word for it that the email was inappropriate and included suggestions of what the sender would like to have happen were they alone together.
3. @GloPro : there was no “deflecting” of unwanted attention, as no unwanted attention was happening at the event. The email came as an unpleasant surprise.
4. I don’t really think a comparison to offensive spam is appropriate, as the spammer is unlikely to show up at shared events and get stalky.
5. @Afos22 : how many emails would constitute harassment?

Just as an add on, the majority of the people responding on the FB thread felt that bringing this to the attention of the group would very likely discourage the sender from continuing this behavior because at some point women may come forward and name names.

marinelife's avatar

@GloPro You say that you can deflect unwanted male attention. Have you ever received an unsolicited, sexually explicit email from someone that you had not given your email address to? That is very stalkerish behavior. It does not taken more than one. It was also boorish. It was not just men being men. Women have a right to be treated with respect. I see nothing wrong with putting it out on Facebook. Especially since she did not identify the sender.

By the way, I do not think that the act of posting the unwanted email on Facebook says anything about the poster except that she has good sense to be offended.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@canidmajor Why could the woman not have posted a message to the group stating, “Just to let you all know, a male member of the group has sent me an unsolicited, sexually explicit email, even though I did not give him my address. Please don’t hand out other people’s email addresses without permission.” Or something of that nature. This would have described the situation and her concern about it without reproducing the sender’s own words.

She could simply have alerted her community to a potential danger. Instead, as @LuckyGuy said, she has shown the community that she has no respect for other people’s privacy, and that she thinks emails are a tool to be used to humiliate people whose behaviour she does not approve of.

janbb's avatar

I think it was also a way for her to let the management of the group know that this was going on. I have no problem with her dealing with the unsolicited, explicit e-mail in this way.

canidmajor's avatar

@dappled_leaves and @LuckyGuy: why do you assume that she does not already have the trust of the group? She is a long-time member in good standing. And, going back to the intent of the OP @dappled_leaves, this is a question about why or why not he should have an expectation of privacy.
And I personally think that an announcement of the type you suggested would get as much attention as announcing the ziti dinner in the church basement.
This kind of behavior does not exist in a vacuum. It is unlikely that this the first and only time that the sender behaved in this manner.

GloPro's avatar

@marinelife Yes, I have. As an actively dating woman I have encountered all kinds of attention, some done respectfully, some not. I have also gotten flowers sent to me both at home and at work by men I have not given my work or home address to. Because I did not give my address out or want flowers from those particular men does not mean anything more than this situation. The difference is that this guy is a creep and boorish and said inappropriate things. That’s it, in my opinion. Men use different methods for hitting on women. His is out-of-line, but as I said, it probably worked for him in the past on lesser women. I think direct and firm rejection is a better method. Don’t tell me that at a “small gathering of people” it wouldn’t be easy to identify the offender. So, yes, this was public shaming. I hope you ‘taught him a lesson.’
@marinelife I have been stalked to the point of police involvement and restraining orders. I would not think to play games with anyone I felt put me in danger. Especially by antagonizing him through social media.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@canidmajor “And I personally think that an announcement of the type you suggested would get as much attention as announcing the ziti dinner in the church basement.”

That doesn’t speak much for what you describe as “long-time member in good standing” with the trust of the group.

You seem to be protesting this pretty hard. I’m not really interested in convincing you. You asked for people’s opinions, and I’ve tried to explain mine. If you don’t want to hear views that do not align with your own, I’m not sure why you asked for them.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

@GloPro, though our opinions on the matter differ widely, I respect your resolve in sticking to your guns.
The OP did not ask what you would do, and some women are not at all comfortable with confrontation. I still support the actions taken as acceptable behavior from someone who felt invaded and threatened. For myself, I have no qualms about kicking balls or punching a face. This guy was not asking for a date, he was being intimidating, and intrusive. With that kind of behavior, I think whatever he gets, he asked for.

Coloma's avatar

My favorite creep story was a UPS guy that delivered a package to me a couple of Christmases ago at my secluded country house.
He was heavily flirting with me, asking a lot of personal questions, loitering and refusing to leave until I walked away and closed the door on him. THEN…he came back a few hours later, claiming he forgot to get a signature from me when one was not required ( lied to find an excuse to return to my home ) and kept “hinting” if I needed any help unpacking and setting up my giant, beanbag loveseat. Heh!

I called the UPS people and they said he had called in and claimed he was running late on his deliveries because he needed to return to a customer for a signature, ( again, no signature needed for my parcel ) and had admitted to me when he returned that he was off hours. The guy was SO CREEPY, ( a temp. driver ) he was, seriously, like 7 feet tall and weighed about 350 lbs. He could have crushed me with his little finger.
I was paranoid for days, even though the UPS people said they would address my issues anonymously, under a blanket statement to all drivers that there was to be NO soliciting customers and that their job was to only deliver packages.

I kept my ranch gate closed and locked for about 2 weeks after the giant creeper came a’ calling. lol

GloPro's avatar

@Jonesn4burgers You’re right, thanks for the wrangling.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@GloPro I’m sorry, there is a possibility that this will not come off as I intend, but here goes:
This amounts to construction worker catcalls or inappropriate words in a club. She blew it WAY out of proportion, which I attribute to a negative aspect social media has brought to us.
As much as we hardly agree on anything, I can follow that logic quite well, and not let emotion fraudulence seep in to think that by not rebuking him through public email is a de facto acceptance or approval of his actions, as I am sure some would have taken it, if they admitted it or not. GA to you

canidmajor's avatar

I think a great deal of information has been assumed that was not given, and I think I may have misunderstood a few things myself.
@LuckyGuy and @dappled_leaves , re your concern about this woman losing the trust of her friends, I think we must have different interpretations of the concept of trust. I assume that trust has an established baseline and is not a given. Since no prior trust was established between the woman and the man who sent the email, no trust was betrayed. Maybe others in the group, with whom she has not developed relationships, will be hesitant to trust her in the future, I don’t know. The original OP is very far from all this, my question was not seeking like opinions, it was just asking what people considered to be an “expectation of privacy”.

@GloPro : re your concern that this is, indeed, a public shaming; this organization has many (30–40) social events per month and the “small gatherings” (10–15 attendees) comprise probably 15–20 of those, so it is highly unlikely that anyone could figure out at what event she met whom for the first time without extensive research. We don’t know from her post when or what was the event, or how long after she received the email that she posted her displeasure.
And I’m not sure why you assume it was me. It wasn’t.

GloPro's avatar

I don’t assume it’s you… I never assume that unless someone states that. Did I say it was you? If so, I don’t remember and am surprised I did.

[edit] ah, I found the ‘you.’ It was not meant directly.

canidmajor's avatar

@GloPro : ah, my mistake. I inferred from your saying “I hope you taught him a lesson” a few comments up that you did.

Edit: saw your edit after I posted.

LornaLove's avatar

Maybe imagine there was no Internet nor emails, he walked over to her home (as he found her address) and made sexual overtures toward her. Does that put it in a better perspective? That is the problem with social media, it’s got a seedy underbelly we accept.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

@LornaLove your analogy is flawed; in-person interactions have a different dynamic than correspondence has.
It would be a better analogy if, say, he wrote sexual overtures to her on a postcard and handed the postcard to someone who knew someone who knew what building her mailbox was in.

LornaLove's avatar

@rexacoracofalipitorius That is the point. Correspondence allows for people to behave in ways they wouldn’t usually. I would say the same of paper based correspondence. He didn’t even have the guts to talk to her personally, then why do it via email.

canidmajor's avatar

To take this a step further,as per @LornaLove‘s post: would he have an expectation of privacy with either an in person approach or a snail mail approach? What are the criteria by which we can conclude whether this is a clumsy attempt at a pass or a method of intimidation? (Granted, face to face it should be easy to tell)

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

If you send registered mail, then you have an expectation of privacy untill addressee has read the mail and decided whether or not to keep it private (unless you have a prior arrangement with the addressee). If you send a postcard, you have no expectation of privacy at all, since the postcard text is available to anyone who handles or even sees the postcard.
One problem with privacy is that it needs to be maintained at each link in the chain of custody. If you publish a piece of information, the chain of custody is parallelized in that each person who reads the information as published constitutes a “next hop” from the published work. There are likely to be too many in this class for the privacy-craving primary to make a separate arrangement with each, and each one can pass the information along for further unsecured hops. Thus any expectation of privacy quickly evaporates unless a proper chain of custody is maintained.
In order to secure a proper chain of custody, trust must exist between the parties: either a personal trust between two individuals, or an institutional trust maintained by an organization or by social norms. In this case the organization that provided the email to him is not so constituted as to establish and enforce institutional trust relations, and no personal trust relation exists between strangers; so unless a social norm requires her to secure his information, no trust relation exists, and therefore no expectation of privacy.

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