The term "sexting" refers to the sending of sexually explicit messages or photos via the internet. Although sexting mainly happens between teenagers and young adults in romantic relationships, the phenomenon is also becoming more widespread among adults.
The greatest danger of sexting, however, is the unwanted posting of these intimate photos on the internet or sharing them via online messaging services.
Even if photos are sent voluntarily as evidence of trust or on request, it should not be forgotten that relationships can come to an end. It is always wise therefore to ask yourself what could become of the photos if you break up.
What can happen is that intimate photos can be used to blackmail you or they can be sent to other people and even posted on pornographic websites.
Be aware that photos that have been sent or posted online can quickly escape all control and become impossible to delete, creating a problem that can pursue the victim for life.
You are advised never to share intimate photos via social media or other online messaging services and never to save such images on your smartphone or on a cloud storage system, but if you do suffer any negative consequences related to sexting, here is some advice:
- If you want a photo to be deleted, tell the recipient.
- If intimate photos are already out there, react quickly and try to take back control.
- Tell someone you trust and ask for help.
- Be aware that photos of you belong to you (you have "image rights"), and that you or your legal guardian have to give your permission for them to be published.
- If a photo of you is circulating, you have the right to contact the operator of the site to ask for it to be deleted.
- If intimate photos of you are being shared or posted online, go directly to the Police.
- Call the Bee Secure Stopline; it has the means to delete unwanted images.
NB: Intimate photos of minors are considered as child pornography, and anyone who possesses or disseminates such images is liable to prosecution, even if they are also still a minor. Furthermore, illegally taking, publishing and distributing intimate photos is considered as an invasion of privacy and an infringement of your image rights: it constitutes defamation.