8 Things You Should Know Before You Start Sexting…
As technology affords us more and more independence, it’s hard for mobile users to resist the most naked expression of technological freedom: sexting. Some studies claim that nearly 40% of all teenagers have posted or sent sexy texts, while 22% of teen girls and 18% of teen guys have sent semi-nude or nude photos. Sexting is exciting, provocative, and in some ways, even empowering, but it also has consequences.
You may not realize this, but once a nude photo of you hits the web (in the cloud, in an email or WhatsApp message, or anywhere else online), then it instantly becomes potentially available for mass sharing, no matter how securely you think the image is stored.
Internet security experts warn that there are a number of ways that privately owned pictures can leak into the public eye, sometimes virally. And while the internet has gone rampant with personal images never intended for general distribution, we are only beginning to realize the effects of sexting.
Here’s are 8 safety sexting tips you MUST consider before taking your clothes off for that selfie.
1. Legalities of Sexting – It can be illegal.
Sharing nude photos without consent is considered sexual harassment and is punishable by law. And if minors are involved, the consequences can be much worse. In some states, the act of sending an illicit image of a minor is considered distribution of child pornography, a felony even if the perpetrator is a minor oneself. So can you get in trouble for sexting? The answer is definitely yes! (And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of other problems with sexting like other legalities of sexting or the emotional consequences of sexting.)
2. Can you get in trouble for Sexting? Think of your potential viewers.
You intended your sexy texts for the eyes of your boyfriend alone. But once the image is out there, others may gain access to it…like your mom, or dad, your grandparents, your high school math teacher, your next door neighbor, the head of your target college’s admissions team, or your future employer, or…your kids. Yeah, I know – let’s not go there.
3. Cloud hosting websites can be hacked.
When hackers wormed into Jennifer Lawrence’ iCloud account and publicized her private poses, we were reminded that it is not only the recipients of sext messages who can expose people’s private annals; hackers can too. It’s a lot harder to hide from an eager and talented hacker than it is from your friends. (It’s even harder to hide if your hackers are your friends.)
4. Your phone might be uploading images to the cloud without you even knowing.
Phones are programmed to automatically upload pictures to the cloud as soon as they’re snapped. As a result, many users don’t even realize that their private photos are stored outside their phones. They assume that when they erase an image (or any other sensitive document) from their phone, it’s gone. But that’s generally not the case.
If you ever store sensitive images or documents on your phone, make sure you are aware of your phone’s default settings. For added security, you can stop your phone from uploading its memory to the cloud. Each phone is different so the best way to find out about yours is through a simple Google search.
5. The sext recipient’s phone might be uploading images to the cloud even if yours isn’t.
All of the dangers inherent in storing images on your own phone also apply to the phones of any recipients you send the messages to. See how complicated this can get?
6. Risks of Sexting – Hide your face, protect your identity.
If you send a picture of your smiling face connected to your undressed body, you’re asking for trouble. So if you simply cannot overcome the sexting temptation, at the very least, find some way to keep your face – and any other identifying features (like your trademark birthmark for example) – hidden. Be creative, This is Sexting Safety 101.
7. Snapchat, the messaging app that makes photos disappear a few seconds after being received, is NOT a foolproof solution.
So, is Snapchat safe for sexting?
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to take a screenshot of a chat window (i.e. your nude photo) before Snapchat makes it disappear. Of course, using an app like Snapchat is far better than allowing sensitive photos to remain on the recipient’s phone forever by default. (Other messaging apps that have adopted this innovative self-destructing messaging technology include Wickr, Cyber Dust, and Yobo.)
8. Eavesdroppers can tap into communication lines.
Remember when you were a kid and you and your neighbor would communicate using two cups connected by a string? If someone were to connect a third cup to the middle of that string, then they could force their way into your private conversation.
Wire tappers can do this exact same thing with mobile communication lines. To protect against this, some communication vehicles provide extra security by encrypting messages so that, although they can still be monitored, they cannot be understood.
In order to send messages which cannot be decoded, you will need to use an encrypting app. (Snapchat, for example, does not encrypt messages.) Check out this score card to see which messenger apps best fit your needs.
Sexting Can Be Tempting…
A single incriminating message that goes public can get you in serious trouble. So if you are going to be sexting online (like you totally can’t resist), please proceed with caution, be sensitive to others, and be sure to protect yourself.