Robert Pattinson has been in the news a lot this past year. From breaking up with long-term girlfriend Kate Hudson to starring in a series of scandals, one thing has been constant: his involvement in some sort of trouble or scandal. And while so far all of these stories have involved women, it’s not hard to imagine that this charming man might fall prey to a more dangerous affectation. After all, with his good looks and easygoing manner, what is there not to like?

But it’s not just women who have been interested in Robert Pattinson. As a celebrity sex symbol, he has been the subject of intense media scrutiny and scrutiny. In fact, the media has even dubbed him “Jagger”, a play on his initials and on-and-off leading man Johnny Depp. For better or worse, Robert Pattinson’s good looks and celebrity status have made him a target for those whose interests lie outside the bounds of good taste.

It all started with an innocent enough tweet. On July 14th, 2018, the actor and singer posted an image of himself wearing a T-shirt with a photo of the rock band REM’s tongue logo on the front. He tagged the band in the tweet, as well as @therock, and @therandomduck, which is the Twitter handles of Danny DeVit, the band’s lead singer. The quote accompanying the photo read, “Everyone needs a tongue. Especially in rock & roll.” The next day, someone apparently took offense to this innocent joke and flagged it as inappropriate content. To add insult to injury, this person also leaked the personally-identifiable information (PII) of thousands of Twitter users to the media. In the eyes of the public, this seemed to make the joke even less acceptable. (The Verge)

To be fair, this wasn’t the first time that Robert Pattinson had gotten in trouble with his tweets. In fact, as The Verge points out, he has a history of being an unwitting target of people who want to lash out at others. The problem is that this time, his jokes may have been taken too seriously. When you’re famous enough, and have enough clout behind you, it’s easy to become a target for those who want to take you down a notch. And while we always advise people to be careful about what they say on social media, in this case, it may have been too late. According to TMZ, police have opened an investigation into the matter. They want to see if there’s any criminal wrongdoing on the part of DeVit or the fans who leaked the information.

While most of those involved might be amused by this whole ordeal, it’s still a serious matter when the target is an innocent civilian. Whether or not you agree with DeVit’s joke about tongues, it’s important to remember that these kinds of jokes can often be a lampooning of a culture or subculture. In this case, Robert Pattinson was trying to make a joke about a famous band and the fans who adorn themselves in the band’s logo. Unfortunately, in laughing at this situation, we might also find ourselves in the throes of a dangerous trend. What if the next person who gets their hands on this kind of information is a malicious actor, looking to blackmail or humiliate the famous person? What if these journalists who reported on the story already have their sights set on Robert Pattinson and want to use this information to further their careers?

Even before this scandal, it was clear that something was off. Back in January 2018, a few months before this tweet debacle, Rob Pattinson was involved in another scandal. This time, he was in trouble with his longtime girlfriend Kate Hudson. The couple was in Saint Barts for Christmas when they got into an argument about her mother, Daphne Merges. On January 7th, three days before their flight back to London, Kate allegedly threw a punch at Rob. According to witnesses, she hit him in the face, breaking two of his teeth. (The Sun)

To be clear, this was not an isolated incident. It seemed that every time somebody mentioned Kate Hudson’s name, something bad would happen. From getting into a physical altercation with his long-time friend Lenny Kravitz, to being accused of groping actress Zoe Kravitz’s boob, Rob seems to have an endless string of bad luck with women. However, whether or not you believe that Kate Hudson is a good person, it’s hard to deny that she has a point. After all, in Rob’s defence, all of these things could be said to be completely unprovoked. (And let’s face facts; he has been cheated on by multiple women in the past. He even joked about it in an interview back in 2016.)

What’s scary is that all of this is completely unnecessary. We live in a world where people with malicious intent already have all the information they need to blackmail celebrities. All they have to do is threaten to post intimate images of them. As the saying goes, if you’re famous enough, you’re famous for being famous. This is even more true nowadays. With the advent of social media, it’s easier than ever for celebrities to be accessible to the public. If you want to embarrass a celebrity, all you have to do is find an image of them online and threaten to post it if they don’t comply. They will never be able to go back in time and change something they’ve said or done in the past. (The threat of sharing embarrassing information is a common one and something that successful extortionists and blackmailers use all the time.)

While the above scenarios might be extreme cases, it’s still a legitimate fear. This is why it’s so important to remain cautious about what you say on social media. It’s also why it’s important to not post things that may be deemed offensive or inappropriate in a different country, or even in different parts of the same country. Sure, maybe it’s perfectly acceptable to joke about certain things in your home country, but that doesn’t mean that it will be accepted everywhere. This is the sort of double standard that will forever be a source of tension between cultures and regions. For instance, in some countries, it is considered taboo to eat eggs during certain periods of the year. This is because the bird’s egg has a very special place in Chinese culture. If you break an egg at an inappropriate time, it will have bad luck for the rest of the year. Nowadays, it’s not hard to find information about the most appropriate times to eat eggs in different parts of the world. Similarly, there are things that some cultures find funny, but others may find it offensive. When in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a world of hurt. The more people that know about your personal life, the more people who have something to gain from sharing that information with the world. And for what? To see your crush tweet about how hot you are? To shame you in front of your friends? To make you the butt of a joke? For these reasons and more, it is important to keep your personal life private. That’s what makes you human, unique, and valuable. You can never protect all of your privacy, but you can certainly try. Be careful whom you give your personal information to; ensure that you’re not putting yourself in any type of danger and use your best judgement. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.