What you need to know about safely sending nudes

Let us be clear from the get-go.

Having your naked photos shared without your consent is never your fault. You are not to blame. You are the victim of an awful act and there is absolutely no benefit in going over all the ways you ‘should’ have or could have prevented it – the issue lies squarely with the person who decided to break your trust.

It’s worth noting, though, that there are ways sexting can go wrong outside of an abuse of consent and trust. Phones can be hacked or nicked. Photos can be accidentally sent to the wrong people.

Thankfully, there are steps we can take to make the act of sending nudes safer, and to lessen the impact should photos fall into the wrong virtual hands.

We chatted with Mia Sabat, sex therapist at Emjoy, for her advice.

Use a secure platform

If you’re on an app where images can easily be downloaded, saved, and shared without your knowledge, it’s probably not the best option for sending sexy stuff.

The same goes for apps that automatically save messages sent to the cloud, or platforms that are easily and often hacked.

‘Be sure to use a secure platform when sending personal images to help you maintain control over who sees them, as well as where and when they might be enjoyed,’ says Mia. ‘We recommend against using platforms where photos can be saved, as you have little control over where these images might end up.

‘Instead, use platforms like Snapchat, which have timed messages and notify senders any time a screenshot is taken or an image is saved, so you can keep tabs on your pics and focus on having fun.

‘If you’d like to keep things more traditional, and you are comfortable with your photograph being kept, try creating a new email address through a secure platform, like ProtonMail, that is fully encrypted, so as to protect your data and your personal information.

‘If you’d like to take it one step further, create your account under a new name, so that if your images are leaked, they can’t be traced back to you. When in doubt, go with your instincts and do what makes you feel the most safe and comfortable.’

Keep the focus on your body

It’s never a bad idea to keep your face out of nude pics, whether you just have a below-the-chin rule for poses, artfully obscure your face with a prop, or do some cropping before sending.

This helps you to maintain anonymity and can make you more comfortable, too. No need to worry about whether you’re supposed to smile or pout if your head isn’t in the frame.

Try to hide identifying details, too

‘If you have tattoos, distinctive birthmarks, scars or other physical markers that could easily identify you, it’s harder to protect your identity – but not impossible,; says Mia.

‘Try out the suggestive draping of scarves, clothing, lingerie, or even sex toys to cover specific marks you’d prefer were shielded or obscured.

‘ This will help you maintain your anonymity, with the added bonus of ramping up the heat and leaving your partner begging for more.’

Turn off your location

Mia explains: ‘Location services essentially act like a fingerprint on your phone.

‘If your location services are on, every image you take will be encrypted with your location information, which can be traced back to your IP address.

‘Turn off location services for an extra measure of security, so you can exchange photos and feel care-free knowing you’ve covered your bases and kept your personal data, quite literally, out of the picture.’

Turn off automatic uploads

Trust us, you don’t want private photos automatically uploading to your iCloud account… especially if you share any tablets or laptops with friends and family, but also in case of a hack.

‘If you have an iPhone, and use the Cloud, every picture you take will automatically upload to your iCloud account,’ says Mia. ‘We recommend manually turning off these automatic uploads, so that your personal accounts are protected.

‘This way, if any of your accounts linked to iCloud are hacked, your nudes are safe.’

Avoid the camera roll

If you’ve ever experienced the sheer panic of showing your friend a photo on your phone, only to have them go to scroll through your roll, you need to change up your sexting storage.

Mia says: ‘If you’d prefer to keep your nudes all in one place, try storing your images in secure apps like Photo Vault or Snapchat’s My Eyes Only section, which let you store and protect specific pictures in the app and remove them from your camera roll.

‘If you’d like to keep your images far from your phone, try investing in an external hard-drive. These external devices are completely separate from any digital accounts (such as iCloud or GoogleDrive) and only store the images you upload onto the device.

‘Since they aren’t linked to the internet, you can store all your indelicate images without fear of the device being hacked, or your images being leaked. Whichever way you’d like to store your images, you can rest assured that you can scroll in front of others without fear of a saucy picture popping up unexpectedly.’

Know your rights

As we said, regardless of what measures you’ve taken, if a naked pic of you is shared without your permission or ends up online, you are not to blame and you have the right to get support.

Revenge porn is a criminal offence and if you’re a victim of it, it’s important to contact the police.

The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative has a lot of helpful further information about what victims can do and how to find support.

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