Oh snap

Though not foolproof, new app helps with safe sexting

If I’ve learned anything from contemporary pop culture it’s these two things: a) pretty much anyone can have a reality television show, and b) if you send a naked photo of yourself to your current love interest, chances are that it will be viewed by more than one person. It seems that almost weekly a celebrity or media-worthy individual has an inappropriate photo leaked. Nonetheless, there’s an important lesson to learn here. Sending naked photos is never the best idea. So, if you’re going to go ahead and do it anyway, you might as well do it safely.

I asked a few people I know around town, who will remain anonymous, to weigh in on the idea of sexting. Some individuals I talked to had a nice sense of humour when it came to this handheld world of flirting and sexual escapades. “A guy I had just started dating once asked me to text him a nude photo of myself,” says one friend. “So, I sent him a photo of myself nude... as a baby.”

“I guess the most common calamity when it comes to sexting is sending a message to the wrong recipient,” explains another. “Usually, the messages are not super racy, but merely, ‘What are you wearing?’ I’ve sent this message to the wrong person before. Fortunately for me, it was sent to someone with whom I had been on a date with, so he just thought that I was trying to flirt with him again, out of the blue. I was secretly embarrassed, but his ego was boosted so I guess it wasn’t so bad.”

Others talked about the mobile interaction like it was the cool new thing. “Sexting is a whole new league of foreplay. It’s limitless with no boundaries,” says one young lady. “It can be with someone you know well or not at all. It allows people to say/do things that they normally would need to have a few drinks before saying face to face.” Her comments and obvious zest for sext could be true, but what are you supposed to do when it comes to mobile protection?

Whether you agree with the woman above — or, perhaps, are more like one of my best friends (yes, I have weird friends) who claims, “I just randomly send naked pictures to everyone while drunk and then am embarrassed for days” — then Snapchat would probably be a handy mobile app for you.

Basically, Snapchat is a simple picture messaging application. It’s available for download on iPhones and Androids, with a fairly cutsie design and a little smiling ghost as its mascot. You can take photos, doodle on them with a virtual crayon and send them off to your Snapchat friends. This all sounds PG enough, right? Right.

Well, then it was pointed out to me that underneath this cute doodle-y messaging application lay a world of sexting. For example, one of the more intriguing features that the application offers is a limited viewing life for photos. Each time you send an image, you choose for the picture to last anywhere from one to 10 seconds and then it disappears. It doesn’t store on your phone, or the recipient’s, it’s just gone. So, if you’ve had a few drinks and are feeling like sending more R-rated images to that special someone, you can chalk it up to temporary pleasure.

Other “sexting safety features” on the app include having to hold a finger on the screen to be able to view a photo you’ve been sent. If you take your finger off the screen, the application returns to its inbox. As well, if your Snapchat buddy does manage to screen capture an image you’ve sent them, it will notify you. Which, I guess would lead to an awkward conversation starting with something like: “Hey, why did you just screen-cap my penis? I wanted it to self-destruct in seven seconds!”

Personally, I’m not a fan of sexting and all that it entails, but this does give some reassurance that if I ever did embrace this new style of sexual interaction, my photos won’t be subject to a larger viewing party than just one person.

Obviously, like anything else we do on our phones, Snapchat is not completely secure and private, but really, when it comes to anything sex-related, nothing is ever 100 per cent safe.


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