Safe Sex(t): How to Protect Yourself When Sexting

I’m a terrible flirt in real life. Drop me in a social setting and I can still hold my own in a decent conversation. But cue the entry of a relatively attractive guy into the mix, and that’s when my brain disassociates from my mouth and I revert to being a 13-year-old.  I end up either blabbering awkwardly or suddenly finding the contents of my drink extremely fascinating.  True story: The only way I spent enough time charming an ex of mine when we first met was that I assumed he was gay and we hit it off talking about fashion trends. Then I realized he was straight when he asked for my number at the end of the night and I literally gulped and dashed home. 

So thank god for technology! Without that tiny little computer in the palms of our hands, I probably wouldn’t have many dating stories or met the love(s) of my life. Don’t get me wrong – dating apps are still brutal when it comes to the wrong swipes that you’ll learn the hard way. Yet nothing else makes your heart flutter like receiving that notification ‘ping’ when you do find that special someone. And when that slight flutter starts descending lower and lower down to the nether regions and the innuendos turn a little more risqué, that’s when the real fun starts. 

Sexting was only listed in the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary in 2012 but with the proliferation of camera phones and smartphones in the early 2000’s, let’s just assume that “Send nudes?” has always been a popular request. To be clear, sexting itself may or may not include explicit photographs but it is the use of suggestive texts, pictures and videos for sexual intimacy. We’re all for the freedom of choice of course so don’t feel pressured to engage or send any sexts that you’re not comfortable with, at whichever stage of the relationship you’re in. That also goes the other way –  if a guy starts sending you unsolicited dick pics, feel free to report him and hit that block button. (You’re not alone, check out Bye Felipe who had enough horror stories to fill up an entire book!) 

However if you’re in the mood and have established your boundaries, here’s a quick guide to make sure you’re safely sexting:

1. Always assume your photos are public
There’s no such thing as a 100% safe sext, even if you’re in a trusted long-term relationship. As long as it’s digital, there’s always a chance that it may leak or accidentally be seen by others (Ever had your heart dropped when someone scrolls up your phone album when you’re showing them a pic?)  Although it may not be the fault of either partner,  just always assume that whatever you put out will be seen by someone else. It happens to the best of us, especially if you’re a celeb, so don’t let it get you too paranoid! This actually helps you decide and control how much you want to share. 

2. Consent, consent, consent
Always give and receive consent before engaging in sexting. It may sound unsexy but it can still be done in a flirty and easy manner. Something subtle like “I can’t wait for our date later… want a sneak peek?”  can be the spark to set the motion going. Then tease accordingly but also ensure you’re mindful of your timing. They might not appreciate that cleavage shot sent over iMessage if they have their screen projecting during a work meeting!

3. Stay mysterious
This is subjective but it’s best to not include your face or identifying elements like tattoos and birthmarks in your photographs. It’s easier said than done when you want to use your trademark doe-eyes and killer smirk to seduce your partner. Just remember Rule 1 and shoot in low-lighting or pose in more a suggestive, rather than explicit shot. While channeling your best Playboy pinup pout, don’t forget about your background in the frame. Keep it simple and remove photographs, artwork or markers that may unsuspectingly doxx you. Like that coffee mug with your alma mater’s crest or the family portrait with the smiling grandparents. If that’s too much effort, the Blur tool in any photo editing software is your new best friend.

4. Delete the ‘Where’
It may sound overkill but if you want to play it really safe, remove the EXIF data from your photos. What exactly is EXIF data? It stands for Exchangeable Image File – a standard format that stores information in digital photography image files like shutter speed and exposure. What’s more relevant for us is that it also stores the location, time and date of the files so it does provide someone else a clue if there’s malicious intent to doxx you. You can find the EXIF data of your photos when you view them on a computer or through third party apps on iPhones and Android. Not a techie? Don’t worry, it’s pretty simple to remove before sending it over to your partner. It’s also always helpful to review the privacy settings on your phones to see if your photos or other apps have access to your location. Check out the guides for iPhone and Androids to turn off the location information you share. 

5. Safeguarding the Spank Bank
Most common messaging apps like WhatsApp, iMessage and Telegram use end-to-end encrypted messaging which means that only the sender and recipient of the messages are able to read the messages. “No eavesdropper can access the cryptographic keys needed to decrypt the conversation—not even a company that runs the messaging service,” explains Wired Magazine.  That’s useful to know when choosing which service to send your sexy videos with. Telegram even has a Self-Destruct Timer function and alerts you when a screenshot is taken (Note: Not 100% fool-proof as someone can always take an actual photo of the screen itself on another phone…). 

Another important element to consider is media storage. We’ve all heard about the infamous Fappening, an iCloud leak of celebrities’s private photos. While the hack happened as they were tricked by phishing sites into giving up their emails and passwords, it still cast a shadow over the safety of iCloud and similar cloud-based platforms like Dropbox. Security experts do recommend keeping media solely on your phone as the lower the number of places they’re stored, the lower the risk of a leak. If you decide on this option, there are photo vault apps available that help to password-protect and store your sensitive media. Some of them even come in the disguise of something more innocuous like a functioning calculator just in case someone nosy starts poking around your phone. Or if you’re not too fazed about needing a password, you can simply ‘Hide’ your photos in iOS and Android. They’re still on your phone but just won’t accidentally pop up if you’re showing off your pet’s photos on your regular album!

We hope that this guide helped to shed some light on how to stay safe when sending your lover racy shots to keep the fire going. Like it’s been pointed out, as long as there’s a digital copy and transmission to another party – there is no 100% guarantee that your nudes will be for you and your partner’s eyes only. However, dare we say it’s the digital equivalent of putting a condom on – better be safe than sorry! Now that we’re done with the security briefing, let’s get back to the mission on hand: 🍆  🍑  💦  😈 😘