“An app that instantly deletes the photos you’ll send to your friends? I’ll definitely only use it for fun and not for nudes! ” -said no gen-Zer ever.
Whether they like to admit it or not (most will), sending nudes has become part and parcel of the flirting process in recent times. Using mainstream applications like Snapchat, Instagram and video calls are often preferred while engaging in sending nudes. It’s all fun and games while you’re in the heat of the moment, but have you ever considered just how much privacy you have while you sending nudes?
Are your photos really your own? Is it safe to send nudes? Do nudes get leaked? Let’s find out all you need to know about sending nudes with the former trust and safety expert for Facebook, Google, Twitter, Netflix, Amitabh Kumar.
The Nude Dilemma: To Hit Send Or Cancel?
Did you know that you give Snapchat the right to use/display/modify even your non-public content? Also, you did know that Instagram has access to your camera, right? Well, at least they don’t use it to spy on you. Or do they?
Amitabh Kumar says, “if there is a nude picture, there’s a pretty high chance that it’s shared amongst peers or online. The chances of it making it into the public domain are pretty high, unfortunately. Most of the time, it’s done by partners/ex-partners/confidants. ”
As the founder of Social Media Matters, an initiative that focuses on online safety, Amitabh claimed he comes across 20 cases a day of nudes being leaked. “It’s like an epidemic. We handle cases with kids, their parents, schools, colleges, and police. If there are intimate images, somebody will get them someday, ”he adds.
The leaks of the past
Perhaps the most famous nudes leak was the iCloud hacking of 2014 in which multiple female celebrities’ intimate photos were leaked on the internet without their consent. Over 500 images, more than 100 celebrities were targeted.
News of the 2014 iCloud hacking traveled all across the globe, multiple actors condemned the action. Jennifer Lawrence, who was one of the actors affected, called it a “sex crime, a sexual violation”. The hacker, Ryan Collins has since been sentenced to 18 months in prison.
“In rural areas, I’ve seen entire villages fighting with each other over a leaked nude video, “ says Amitabh, when asked about the damage a leaked nude can do. The infamous case of the leaked MMS in 2004, which resulted in the video being shared and sold (yes, sold!) so rapidly that the Supreme court ordered the imprisonment and a fine for anyone in possession of the video. The victim eventually had to leave the country, since the harassment was unbearable.
Related Reading: What Happens When Neither Of You Asks For Consent?
A similar case features a Hyderabad woman, whose nudes resurfaced on the internet, 8 years after initially trying to get them taken down. As a result, her marriage and personal life suffered.
While many of you may be experiencing temporary anxiety (let’s face it, you’re going back to Instagram after this), we don’t mean to scare you. To put your mind at ease, Snapchat does really delete the photos and videos you send to your friends, but they can stay on their servers for up to 30 days. So just how trustworthy are these platforms?
Can We Trust Apps Like Snapchat And Instagram While Sending Nudes?
While these applications have had their problems with getting hacked, Amitabh claims their servers are usually highly secure, and it isn’t all that easy to hack into them. Having worked for the tech giants, he could confidently say the employees do not have access to your images. The real problem, however, lies with your phone.
“Especially if you have an Android, your phone can be quite easy to retrieve photos from. Every picture on your phone is automatically saved in your cache. Google then routinely backs it up and now its code is in a public folder, which isn’t all too hard to access. Anyone who knows how to surf through Google Drive can access it, “ says Amitabh.
While the glaring problem doesn’t lie with the big social media applications, keep in mind that Amitabh comes across 20 cases of leaked nudes a day. Most of which, he said, are through messenger apps.
So, chances are, if you have something naughty saved on your phone, it can be accessed if someone really wants to. This may be enough you persuade you off sending nudes altogether, what about if you’ve indulged in the past?
If I’ve sent nudes in the past, do I need to be worried?
Short answer: only if you think your nudes are saved somewhere.
Sending nudes is risky, and big applications like Snapchat and Instagram, while mostly secure, can get hacked as well. But the real problem arises when your nudes are saved by someone somewhere, or when you have a nude saved on your phone.
“In my experience, 99% of the time, it will go into the public domain or be shared with somebody who you don’t want it to be shared with, “ says Amitabh.
“A lot of times, these hacks also happen through the service provider or the Wi-Fi router. If you are on a public network, let’s say you are sharing a flat with eight people, then pretty much all the other seven can figure out what you are downloading and uploading if they want to, “ he adds.
“Laptops, computers, cheap phones don’t ever really delete anything. So, retrieving data is super simple, it can be accessed via cached files as well. When you give your phone to a shady repair guy, the first thing he does is retrieve all your data to check for explicit images, “ says Amitabh. Rest assured, we’re never letting another repair guy touch our phone without monitoring his every move.
Related Reading: How To Find Out If Your Partner Is Cheating Online?
How do I know if my nudes are on the internet?
If you’ve sent nudes to an ex-partner in the past and you’re worried about yours ending up on the internet, there are things you can do to find out if they’ve made their way on the internet or not.
“Every picture is just a code at the end of the day. In theory, you can scan all of the internet for this code. The easiest way to find out is through reverse image searching on Google. Apart from that, there are multiple paid tools you can use as well, “ says Amitabh.
Apart from Google image search, you can use websites and apps like TinEye, Yahoo image search, Getty images, Picsearch.
If you do find something, it’s not impossible to trace its source either. “When you upload a video or a picture, a lot of data goes with it, for example, your device ID, your location, your internet service provider, your IP address. So all of that can be used to track back the pictures and eventually get them removed, “ he adds.
So, What Can Be Done?
If you want to indulge in sending nudes, you can not disregard the possibility that your intimate pictures may end up on the internet, being shared with people you might not want them to be.
Even so, there are a couple of things you can do if you want to decrease your chances of being internet famous – in the wrong way.
The technical fixes
Amitabh advises getting familiar with the privacy and backup options of your phone. “Make sure that all the auto backing, up auto uploading, auto-updating are turned off. Don’t save any intimate pictures on your phones. Get a personal WiFi router, read the terms of service to be better informed, “ says Amitabh, completely aware of the fact that nobody on planet Earth is ever going to read the terms of service.
If you’re not convinced by these fixes, your best bet is to never send nudes, ever. Or, you could just not include your face or any tattoos in it.
The legal ‘fix’
If you have found a photo of yours on the internet that shouldn’t be public, contact the cybercrime department of the area you live in. “If somebody has uploaded your nude on a pornographic website, then you can send a legal court order and a request. And usually, serious pornographic websites do remove content like this on a legal request, “ Says Amitabh.
“If it is on big platforms like Facebook, YouTube, you can get it removed within 24 to 48 hours. That won’t be a problem. The problem is that the internet is far bigger than these 10 big companies, ” says Amitabh, explaining that the legal recourse can often be filled with problems.
In theory, it should be possible to remove your explicit images from the internet. But since the internet is huge and there’s no limit on how quickly something spreads, it might cost you a pretty penny. You’ll need the best white hackers in the world, who are often pretty expensive.
The mindset fix: Own it
If you’re sending a nude picture, you need to be okay with the fact that it might someday go public. “Who cares?” is probably the best mindset you can have. All you’ll need to achieve that is a zen state of mind and not concern yourself with the opinions of others.
“I think if you are in the age of cybersex, which we are, then the solution is to remove the hypocrisy from it. The problem is not the nude picture getting shared. The problem is, people are viewing this picture and making gossip out of it, “ says Amitabh.
Tackling the stigma around it, owning up to your nude picture and accepting the fact that life goes on even if your nudes are making the rounds is key to not losing all your hair because of anxiety.
On the other hand, if you really think about it, there are billions of nude photographs on the internet. If yours one day finds its way among them, life will still go on. “if we are eager to express ourselves erotically in the digital space, then we should also be okay with the possibility of it going public, “ says Amitabh.
Weigh out the pros and cons, make an informed decision before you take your shirt off and pull your camera up in the spur of the moment!