OkCupid, Twitter, and Snapchat all have messaging built-in. If you go down this path, we recommend using a separate account than the one you use day to day. This makes it less likely that you’ll accidentally post something you didn’t want to share, and lets you guard your identity. Keep in mind, however, that these services don’t necessarily put privacy first. If you go this route, you’ll want to take steps to hide who you are in the sign-up process, using a disposable email address or a secondary phone number.
There are lots of other options for sending secure messages, such as Wickr and Briar, and semi-anonymous messaging like Kik. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and we recommend doing a little research before you dive in. Make sure you know how messages are stored, whether or not they are encrypted, and whether someone other than the recipient can access them.
Whatever you do, don’t reuse passwords. If you use the same passwords across accounts, and one account gets hacked, the hackers will go around trying your password on other accounts. It will happen! It’s perhaps one of the most common ways people get “hacked.” Don’t do it! Use a password manager and batten down your password security.
While most people are concerned about the risks of sending sexts, there are risks and responsibilities for receiving them, too.
Be mindful of your backups. Contrary to most advice you’ll hear about photos on your smartphone, don’t back up photos automatically when you’re sexting. Make sure you turn off auto-upload features in apps like Dropbox and Box, as well as Google Photos and the Apple Photos app.
Agree upon rules for deleting, and follow through. Be safe, be smart, and delete your dirty messages and pictures frequently. Agree with your sexting partner regarding how often you will dump pictures of their junk, and check in from time to time to make sure they are doing it.
Again, there’s no way to prevent a determined individual from taking a screenshot or somehow copying a file. But you can make your feelings clear about whether you want your partner to keep copies of your torrid exchanges.
Learn how to really delete. More importantly, make sure you learn how to delete stuff entirely. For example, if you mark iPhone photos to delete, it doesn’t actually delete them for 30 days. It just puts them into an album called Recently Deleted. You have to go into that folder and force-delete them to get rid of them right away. The same is true for other photo services.
Be aware that some services like those provided by Google and Apple will sync your images between devices. Simply deleting the image from one device doesn’t mean you’ve covered all your bases, so be sure you know how your settings are configured.
Even when you do delete files entirely, there’s still a chance someone could forensically recover the data. It’s very difficult, but you should be aware that it’s possible.
Hide texts from the lock screen. Although we recommend you do not use the stock text messaging app for your sexting, there’s no guarantee your sexting partner isn’t going to slip up and send you a tantalizing description of himself or herself via SMS. So be extra cautious and disable messages from appearing on your phone’s lock screen. (Even if you don’t sext, hiding messages from the lock screen is a very good security tip.)
When we open ourselves up to intimacy of any kind, we’re putting ourselves at risk. That’s as true online as it is in person. So be smart, take precautions, and above all: be kind. Respect people’s boundaries, and be a good steward of sensitive information. When sex-or sexting-is safe, it’s a lot more fun.