You have probably heard of the term « dossier ». You may have read about it, heard the phrase on a television show, or even broadcast it yourself. For those who don’t know, a nude is a nude photo sent to a person over the phone, usually for sexual purposes. However, what you may not know about files is that they are a lot more dangerous than you might think, and sending or receiving files could actually get you in big trouble. So before you hit send to send that fast-paced pic, here’s everything you need to know about sending nudes.
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Never feel pressured to send one.
First of all, if you don’t want to mail a file, don’t. No pressure should be applied when sending an act. If your crush tells you they will like you more, drop them and find someone who likes you for you, not your nude pictures (trust me, someone like that) is out there). Just like with sex, you should never send an act if you are uncomfortable with it, no matter what the person receiving it says.
Make sure you trust the person you’re sending them to.
I could easily say, « don’t send nudes, » but abstinence-only education has never been effective. Instead, I’m here to make sure you do it as safely as possible once you’ve decided to broadcast an act. First, it means that you trust the person you are sending the files to. This is someone you know, someone who doesn’t show the picture to other people, doesn’t put it online, doesn’t pass it on to school. Don’t send your photo to someone who is vengeful or who wants revenge on you in the future. Posting the nude pictures they have of you without your consent is known as « revenge porn » and is a form of digital abuse.
If you wholeheartedly trust your significant other and want to share your beautiful body with them, then that’s fine. But if there are any questions about the nature of the recipient, maybe just wait and see.
Know your state laws.
Yes, depending on your state and age, you can could break a law anytime you broadcast or receive a nude so make sure you know the laws of your state well before shooting and broadcasting.
The laws were created to protect minors from sexual assault, but sometimes they can involve two people sexting consensually. Nationwide it is « illegal to produce, distribute, receive or possess obscene visual representations of a minor who is involved in sexually explicit behavior in order to disseminate them ». That is, if you are under the age of 18 and you are sending or receiving a sexual image, you are violating prosecution remedies and other tools to end the Child Exploitation Today (PROTECT) Act 2003.
Alternatively, if you are a minor and you are sending an act to someone who is not a minor, that person could also be charged with child pornography and therefore be labeled a sex offender.
You should also know your state laws, which you can find on cyberbullying.org. For example, in New York it is illegal to distribute child pornography and minors in the state are 16 years of age or younger. So if you receive a nude from a person 16 or under and show it to someone else, it is considered child porn distribution and is illegal. But you can also get into trouble sending nudes. It is illegal to send sexually explicit content to anyone under the age of 17. So, even if you are of legal age, you are committing a criminal offense if you send anything to minors.
Again, these laws are meant to protect you, not harm you, or prevent you from flirting with your significant other, but that doesn’t mean they won’t affect you just because the act is consensual. Take some time and check out the laws with your SO before you start sexting. That way, you know where the laws stand in relation to you and you can make an informed decision about whether to move on or not. If you commit a crime by sending or receiving files, stop doing it immediately, just don’t do it. Maybe just wait a few years and then send any nudes you want.
Make them anonymous.
So you are going to send out an act, but you want to make it as safe as possible and you need to prepare for the worst. To do this, make this file anonymous. Don’t include your face in the photo. Don’t pretend to be something easily recognizable as yours, like a poster with your name on it in your bedroom. Finally, if you have a distinguishable feature like a birthmark or a tattoo, cover it up.
Download a new app.
Do not send your file by SMS. Yes, you can delete the message, but the recipient cannot. They can save the photo without your knowledge and then who knows what to do with it. Snapchat seems like a good option as the photos go away, but there’s this little feature called Screenshot that is causing problems with it.
So you have to download a whole new app to send nudes. Yes, that sounds like a chore, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Apps like Signal or WhatsApp are good at protecting the photos from hackers, but they don’t offer any defense against screenshotters. To do this, try something like Private, a messaging app that allows you to add security measures to protect the pictures you send. Then there is DiscKreet, which locks your file in a password-protected system. To view the photo, both the recipient and the sender must enter a passcode at the same time. If the recipient wants to check out the image at a later time, they must send a new request to the original sender.
Before doing anything, think again about whether you want to engage in sexting or whether you just feel pressured to send photos. If so, stop what you are doing immediately. If you want to send nude photos and trust the recipient, you should consider the legal ramifications, especially if you are a minor. Then, if you ultimately decide to send an image, stay safe, keep it anonymous and protect the image from screenshots or hackers. I don’t promote sexting, but when you do be smart and safe.
Carolyn Twersky is an Associate Editor at Seventeen and deals with Celebrity, Entertainment, Politics, Trends, and Health. In her spare time, she probably watches Ru Paul’s Drag Race, traverses NYC in search of the best donuts, or enjoys spending time in her favorite place in the world: her bed.