1. Do you trust the recipient? If you’re not 100% sure, don’t press send.
Here is the most important sexting advice of all: Only send NSFW content to people you trust. Does the recipient seem like someone who would publish your nudes as revenge or use them as blackmail? Do they seem like they take basic security precautions with their devices (see: tip #2)? Are they generally ...trustworthy?
You can use apps that employ the most secure end-to-end encryption available, but it won’t matter if the person on the other end takes a screenshot, and “accidentally” posts it to Twitter. So make sure that the person you’re sending your Anthony Weiner to is someone who understands the value of the safekeeping of your selfie.
2. Add a passcode to your phone and encourage your sexting buddy to do the same.
Because, duh! If their (or your) phone is ever stolen and left unlocked, your nudes might end up in the wrong hands.
3. You won’t always know when someone screenshots your sext. Yes, some services will notify you, but there are many ways to get around this.
4. Apps that are fully encrypted will prevent hackers from procuring your nudes, but they suffer the same pitfalls.
Messaging apps that employ end-to-end encryption, like Signal and WhatsApp, are great for protecting your various states of undress from hackers and government surveillance. But don’t be fooled: These apps don’t offer tools that prevent screenshotting or taking photos of the screen. Signal disables screenshotting by default on Android, but turning off screenshots is not an option on iOS.
5. Some apps make it more difficult to save photos — but they’re not fail-proof.
6. If you are using a chat app, see if there’s an “incognito” or “secret” mode that won’t record your history.
7. Make sure your face isn’t in the photo to anonymize it.
Don’t be tempted by the full-frontal mirror selfie. They already know your face is cute, anyway. Show the people what they really want: YOUR BOD. Think creatively and point your camera down. Be aware of other identifiable details like tattoos and distinctive piercings, too.
And if you do capture those identifiable details, try using Microsoft Paint or the built-in Markup tool in the iPhone Photos app (open the photo > settings (the middle right button) > three dots icon > Markup), to cover them up with some scribbles.
8. Remove the image file’s location data.
9. Be sure to double-check services that automatically backup your photos.
If you use Flickr, Google Photos, or iCloud Photo Library, prevent those services from auto-syncing your photo library before taking your nudes. Send the selfie, delete it, then re-enable backup.
Additionally, if you use WhatsApp and have opted to backup chats to iCloud or Google Drive, sent images will remain in the cloud, even after you’ve deleted the individual message from your phone. You’ll have to delete the chats manually from your cloud service account.
10. And, last, learn how to save those nudes safely – and teach your partner how to, too.
If you must, the best way to save your most sensitive photos is through the aforementioned method: on an encrypted hard drive in a password-protected folder.
On a Mac, it’s fairly simple. Open the Disk Utility app. Go to File > New Image > New Image From Folder and select the folder you want to protect. Under Encryption options, select 128-bit AES encryption and add a password. Don’t forget it! You won’t be able to recover it if you do. Under Image Format options, select read/write so you can still add and delete photos at your leisure.
You can do it for individual files too, through the Preview app. Go to File > Export as PDF > Show Details > Enable encryption and add a password underneath.
In Windows 10, right click the folder > Properties > Advanced > Encrypt content to secure data. To access the encrypted file, you’ll need the username and password of the login you used to create it with.
Share this guide with your favorite taker-of-nudes, so you’re on the same page. Happy sexting!
Nicole Nguyen covers products and personal technology for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Nicole Nguyen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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