In an ideal world, expressions of love, or lust, would be intimate, safe and secure. But unfortunately, it's not an ideal world — not by a long, long shot. And women, unsurprisingly, have the worst end of the technological stick. Revenge porn and threats of making intimate photos public are a disgustingly common refuge of disgruntled exes and creepy hackers. The sad part is, no one's a hundred percent safe. Remember the massive iCloud hacking of 2014 which led to over 500 private photos of mostly female Hollywood celebrities being leaked on 4chan? Remember Taruna Aswani, the Mumbai girl who decided to stand up to the hacker who tried to blackmail her with exposure if she didn't ply him with videos? The sad truth is, we're all one ill-fated nude selfie away from becoming fodder for social media outrage and "trollage".
Revenge porn and threats of making intimate photos public are a disgustingly common refuge of disgruntled exes and creepy hackers.
We're all smart enough to know the dangers we're vulnerable to every time we send nude photos of ourselves into cyberspace. But how long can you live your life feeling like a hostage to a man's future wrath? We take the risk, hoping that the people we've chosen to trust — boyfriends, partners, husbands — will act like the decent, upstanding people we believe them to be and not make a mockery of our faith in them by exposing our intimate moments to the world.
Some of us get unlucky and cross paths with those vile creatures who would think nothing of humiliating us and stripping us of our dignity, the second they realise things aren't going the way they wanted. While there's no foolproof way to be safe from this digital black hole other than never taking a nude picture at all — and let's face it, chances of that are terribly slim — there are ways to safeguard yourself from a disgusting invasion of your privacy. Here are seven things you can do to protect yourself.
1. Pose with precision
Your nudes are of little use to a vengeful ex or the pervert nosing through your private files if they don't contain personally identifiable information. So don't include your face, tattoos or birthmarks in your nude photos. While careful nudes might not have the same libido-scorching effect that the true-blue full frontal does, you'll sleep easy knowing that even if they end up on the Internet for public consumption by some unfortunate turn of events, at least you won't be getting horrified calls from your family and friends. The small sacrifice is worth your peace of mind.
2. Scrub them clean
Even if you've posed carefully and there's no way to tell that the nude is yours by simply looking at it, each picture carries a footprint with it that can trace it back to you. Before sending the compromising photo over, transfer it to your computer, and remove the personal and hidden information (EXIF) that can very easily lead someone back to you. Here's how you do it on Windows, Mac and Linux
3. Ground rules
The basic rule of sexting nudes is that both the sender and receiver never, ever hold on to them, no matter how aesthetically appealing they might be. If you have even the slightest inkling of doubt that your partner might not be able to resist the temptation to delete the photos, just don't send it to them.
4. Remember the cloud
When you're destroying the evidence, remember that just because you can't see your 2am nudes on your camera roll doesn't mean that they don't exist. Remember that your phone may have backed up your photos to the cloud and your partner's phone may have backed them up to his cloud as well. While deleting photos, make sure to delete them from both the device and the cloud.
5. Pause to unsync
Most of us use multiple devices and most of the devices and apps are synced with each other. While that might be wonderfully convenient in the normal course of events, while sexting, that's not quite safe. Imagine sending or receiving sexts through an app that you're signed in to on your tablet which happens to be lying on the dinner table, within easy reach of your mum or kid brother...the horror story just writes itself. If you're sending nudes, send them through an app that isn't synced from a safe device.
6. Special apps
While WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption as well now, it is always advisable to have a special app which is the only one you use to send nude photos—like Hidely, Bleep or CoverMe.
They're designed for the express purpose of sending nudes safely with additional security features.
Apart from the fact that they're designed for the express purpose of sending nudes safely with additional security features like self-destructing photos, hiding photos from your camera roll, anonymising your sexts and scrubbing them clean of meta data; when you have a designated app for sending nudes, the chances of accidentally sending it to a friend, co-worker or ex are exponentially lower. Despite the heightened security, here's one thing to always remember — no app can protect you against a hastily-taken screenshot, so you still have to trust that the person you're sending a nude to is a baseline decent person.
7. Office has a no-nudity policy
You don't ever know how an office-issued device might be configured or what the security settings for the office Wi-Fi are. It is possible that all your data and activity might be available to your bosses for scrutiny. Don't do it.