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Monday, May 7, 2012

Safe Sexting? There's An App For That. Kinda.

Posted by Dan Savage on Mon, May 7, 2012 at 2:14 PM


According to a study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project that is due out later this year, 6 percent of adult Americans admit to having sent a “sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photo or video” using a cellphone. Another 15 percent have received such material. Three percent of teenagers admit to sending sexually explicit content.

All of this sexting, as the practice is known, creates an opening for technology that might make the photos less likely to end up in wide circulation.

This is where a free and increasingly popular iPhone app called Snapchat comes in. Snapchat allows a person to take and send a picture and control how long it is visible by the person who receives it, up to 10 seconds. After that, the picture disappears and can’t be seen again. If the person viewing the picture tries to use an iPhone feature that captures an image of whatever is on the screen, the sender is notified.

First, the percentages in the first paragraph above seem kinda low. My hunch is that way more than 6 percent of adults and 3 percent of teenagers have sent “sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude" photos or videos. And as teenagers have been arrested and prosecuted for sexting under child porn laws (it was the sex panic of the moment about four years ago), a researcher isn't likely to get an honest answer when she asks, "Hey, dawg, emailed anyone a pic of your junk lately?"

Second, so you download Snapchat... you send someone a dirty picture... and it's supposed to disappear in ten seconds... but they capture an image of it on their phone's screen. What good does it do you to be "notified" about the captured image? What can you do about it then?


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