Sexting, Snapchat and Scandal

By Meg Lein

Jack met Jill, and it all began very innocently. But soon enough, their texts went from conversational to sending naughty messages in hopes to rev each other’s engines. You get the picture.

It’s part curiosity. Sometimes the idea of “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours” can help you get an idea of how you and the recipient will match sexually.

A 2014 study conducted by McAfee, a security software firm, found that over half of American adults have sent a steamy message, image or video to either a significant other or a random hookup. And it comes as no surprise that Snapchat, an app that deletes your images from its servers after it is opened, is wildly popular with young adults. In a volunteer poll of Simpson students, 62 percent of respondents replied that they have either sent or received a nude photo or video. Three-fourths of these students have used Snapchat as a channel to send these images.

However, even though Snapchats are self destructive, sending a nude photo can be a risky business. Within a few seconds, a self-destructive image can become a permanent photo in another person’s phone when someone captures a screenshot. Your private property now is at the mercy of someone else’s judgment. Of the students who have received a nude photo on Snapchat, 39 percent has taken a screen shot. One respondent said that they later shared the photo
with others.

The notion of nude photo sharing doesn’t belong only to college students. The multi-billion dollar porn industry is dedicated to sharing obscene images and videos. Many websites allow users to upload photos of naked men and women they have received. In October, many celebrities’ nude photos were uploaded onto 4chan, an online image bulletin board, and then spread to websites such as Reddit and Tumblr. A-list actors, artists and models such as Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna and Kate Upton, were among 100 celebrities targeted in the 4chan Apple iCloud
nude photo leak.

The most foolproof way of keeping your photos private is not to send them in the first place. Remind you of your high school sex-ed teacher telling you that the only guaranteed way to not get pregnant or contract an STD is to remain abstinent? Yes, we know that. But consider this – there are no contraceptives once a photo is shared. Even if you delete a photo, it’s still there and there are hackers readily available to find that image. A photo sent now can have long-term consequences. Many professionals have been fired from their jobs after nude images of them have surfaced on the Internet.

So go ahead and send that scandalous text or selfie. But keep in mind the warnings. Even if you completely trust your recipient, just remember you can’t be too sure.

But if you’re willing to risk it (because we know college students live life on the edge) follow our three rules:

  1. Agree with your recipient that neither person will take a screenshot. Scout’s honor.
  2. Don’t include your face on the photo. Same rule applies for recognizable features.
  3. Location, location, location. Use a wall or plain background as a backdrop.
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