Privacy Tips for Anyone Who Sends Nude Selfies
I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t receive intimate photos of a lover’s ‘cash and prizes’, and widespread sexting and oversharing are probably with us to stay. But people, we’ve got to be vigilant about sexting intelligently to avoid personal risk. In the above selfie, we see a tastefully erotic shot from the SexEdMyWay tumblr in which the subject is showing no nudity and her face is not fully visible. It’s a totally hot selfie, but no one’s going to fired, extorted or Internet-humiliated over it because girlfriend has adhered to a sensible set of best practices. And the reasons you too should adhere to these best practices with your naked selfies are fucking terrifying.
“Most people who’ve been hacked don’t even know it,” says Violet Blue, author of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy (a riveting must-read and less than $7 for the eBook version). “On the black market, pics of women are worth more than men, making [women] bigger targets.”
Whoa… did she just say there’s a black market for our stolen nude selfies? She did, and there is.
The privilege of exchanging dirty pictures comes with new privacy maintenance responsibilities, like deleting automatic cloud backups, checking and editing your app permissions and — it kills me to say this — deleting the pictures that someone else has sent you. We’ve compiled a lists of the basics, but it is by no means complete.
If you’re a horndog sexter to any degree, you definitely need to set aside some time to check out Ms. Blue’s ten steps to secure your nude selfies and take her online privacy test in addition to the admittedly unsexy maintenance tasks below.
PUT A PASSCODE ON YOUR PHONE
If you ever send or receive any dirty sexty anything, you really need to have the passcode feature on your phone activated. Otherwise, anyone can pull that shit up while you’re asleep, drunk or just not looking. Here’s how to set a passcode on iOS and how to set a lock-code on Android.
“Never sign in on someone else’s phone, computer or tablet,” Violet Blue advises on ZDNet. “Your login information can be recorded if they’ve been hacked.”
DON’T SHOW YOUR FACE IN A SEXT PICTURE
There was once this guy who was going to be mayor New York City but then he wasn’t because he sexted around all these pictures of his face and his enormous cock. Remember that? Oh, it was funny — but this could happen to almost anyone.
Do not include your face in any selfie that shows your boobs, rear end or genitals. I can assure that you that men still get off on photos without a face visible. And guys, I can also assure you that women don’t want pictures of your dick in the first place. Either way, leaving your face out of the shot gives you the peace of mind that comes with plausible deniability.
Unless the photo is geotagged. Geotagging can prove where the photo was taken, and establish that the boobs or enormous cock in the image were indeed photographed at your home or workplace. “You should absolutely make sure that you have geotagging (location) turned off on your phone and in any app you use to take the photos,” Violet Blue tells BrokeAssStuart.com. “And make sure you remove them from your phone as soon as possible; I recommend that if you must save them, put them on a drive that stays unconnected to the internet.”
DELETE PHOTOS FROM YOUR CAMERA AND FROM THE CLOUD
“I delete my nude selfies after sending them, says Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary author and professional sexy person Polly Whittaker. “So I don’t have to scroll past them when showing photos to my mum.”
That worked fine in the old days, when all you had to worry about was your mum. These days, both Android and iOS will automatically export your photos to a cloud account, whether you asked for this or not. And these companies are not terribly vigilant about addressing security flaws in the cloud.
“It’s awfully convenient to have backups to the cloud, but it’s not very safe from a privacy or security standpoint, no matter what a company promises,” Ms. Blue says. “In the case of Apple and Dropbox, both have made promises while leaving users vulnerable.”
Android can be more secure, but only if you know how to really tinker with it.
“Android phones are notoriously unpatched and insecure, and Google doesn’t really prevent apps from taking all sorts of data from your phone,” Ms. Blue notes.
I spoke to an Android-using engineer friend who is smart enough to not give their real name. This person uses Java and XML commands to ensure nude selfies bypass the DCIM/Camera folder, thereby avoiding automatic backups to the cloud. “I have two hard drives, one that stays and has my app loaded, and another SD card I can pull and use just like a digital camera,” said engineer said. “This is pretty easy when you bypass the phone itself. Create the folders nested wherever you have your originals and, at least with my android device, the folders show up in the gallery for easy viewing. With nudes, I do it right away and set the folder to private. You’ll not see anything when cruising through your gallery.”
CHECK YOUR APP PERMISSIONS
App permission overreach infects many areas of your phone unrelated to the app’s purpose. Sure, I’ve had techies tell me these excessive permissions are “just standard” for modern-day apps. Kind of like external door locks were “just standard” at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.
“There is no reason for most apps to have camera and microphone permissions, and yet they do, and we’re forced to agree in order to use the app,” Violet Blue points out. “Meanwhile we have no way of ensuring these apps are secure. It’s a high-risk situation, really. Shoddily made apps are doors waiting to be opened.”
Let’s pick on Facebook as an example, they’re pretty fashionable to hate on right now. If I am in receipt of your topless selfie sent via text message, Facebook can access that text and keep it on their servers. That’s because the Facebook app has access to text message content, and they claim they do this because “If you add a phone number to your account, this allows us to confirm your phone number automatically by finding the confirmation code that we send via text message.”
How the fuck that has anything to do the rifling through my text messages I have no idea. But they can do it.
To be fair, Facebook is probably an industry leader in security. But what about the Lyft app, the PayPal app and the shitty Angry Birds knock-off app designed by two Laotian guys? Many of these apps also access your texts and camera. You should go to your settings and check the app permissions, and in some cases reconsider whether you really need that app.
Violet Blue’s dynamite The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy is an excellent and authorative resource on not just securing your selfies, but also on avoiding web-stalking, identity theft and revenge porn scenarios. Ms. Blue’s Pulp Tech blog on ZDNet is updated with all her latest reporting on web privacy matters, and Kashmir Hill’s Not-So-Private Parts blog on Forbes is similarly outstanding. If you know of other good resources, let us have it in the comments.
And check developments from these and other trusted news sources regularly. We may live in a world where no set of best practices is ever good for much longer than 3 months.
Acknowledgements: This article is dedicated to anyone who has ever sent me titllating pics of their boobs or vagina. You know who you are! I cherished them so much and I was moved by the trust you showed me. But I confess that I made terrible mistakes with them. I just didn’t know better. I turned in old phones without clearing the SD cards, and I let images get uploaded to cloud servers. I am so, so sorry. I promise I have learned to be vigilant, and I do sincerely hope we can sext back and forth again!