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Chatting online is part of the daily lives of millions of users, but WhatsApp has become the most popular application in the world. One way to relate to this environment through the practice of sexting is to share erotic content, scraps, photos or videos on messengers and social networks. The risky activity is common among young people under 18 who contribute 25% of the receipts of this type of intimate material, according to research from the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.

The participation of adolescents in this practice also reveals the exposure of this group to risks such as possible leaks and the chance that this content will be passed on to others and become public. However, for adults who don't give up on this kind of interaction, there are services like Telegram, Signal and Dust that can be less risky in such cases. Remember that it is the user's responsibility to maintain this type of communication on the Internet.

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Sexting: Practice that unites sex and technology endangers user intimacy Photo: Luciana Maline / dnetcSexting: Practice that unites sex and technology endangers user intimacy Photo: Luciana Maline / dnetc

Sexting: Practice that unites sex and technology endangers user intimacy Photo: Luciana Maline / dnetc

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The term "sexting" is the junction of the words "sex" and texting, which can be freely translated as "sex by text messages". Currently, the word has a broader meaning and also refers to the sending of photos, videos and audio messages. This is due to modernization of practice with the advancement of mobile technologies and the arrival of chat applications such as WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram and Snapchat, which have enabled new possibilities. Thus, sexting is now broadly understood as the exchange of personal erotic content by any electronic means.

One in four young people admit to having received messages of sexual content. The finding is made by a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics. The survey also points out that one in seven claim to have practiced sexting. As for sharing frequency, about 27.4% receive materials as erotic connotation, while 14.8% are responsible for this type of approach.

The researchers were able to identify that 12% of the young people interviewed had already sent "sexts" to third parties and about 8.4% had already heard of some explicit content about them that was passed on without authorization. Thus, the study indicates the tendency of this type of behavior in adolescence, as well as highlighting the practice as a factor associated with the sexual development of this group.

To achieve this result, the researchers analyzed data from 39 studies conducted between January 1990 and June 2016, referring to more than 110,000 young people, under 18 years old, from different countries of the world.

What is sexting? Learn all about messaging sex Photo: Playback / Kaspersky LabWhat is sexting? Learn all about messaging sex Photo: Playback / Kaspersky Lab

What is sexting? Learn all about messaging sex Photo: Playback / Kaspersky Lab

Possible risks and how to protect yourself

Despite the popularity, it is important to be aware of the possible risks of sharing intimate moments on the Internet. Content leaks of this type in the network either through revenge (known as revenge porn) or some cybercriminal's invasion of the victim's data has been recurring. A recent case of Brazilian pop singer Lusa Sonza, 20, wife of humorist and youtuber Whindersson Nunes. She had a nude photo posted on Stories from her Instagram account on February 3, 2019. At the time, the celebrity said she had difficulty accessing the social network profile before the leak occurred.

In addition to the sender of the content being a trusted person, the recommendation to guard against such a situation is to maintain a secure Internet connection, ie avoid public networks, for example. It is also important to give preference to using end-to-end encryption applications such as WhatsApp and Telegram. It is a suggestion to prefer private networks with passwords and preferably using certification protocols, such as WPA2, which seek to ensure a less susceptible virtual environment for malicious people to access.

The other protection issue applies to software that adopts the methodology that prevents the interception of shared data, including by developer teams. Encryption techniques deconfigure all cyber language referring to that content, so that if the data goes wrong, one would have only a cluttered and seemingly meaningless list of characters that leads nowhere. Tips such as not sharing passwords or codes from mobile devices with others also help maintain a more enjoyable Internet experience.

Importantly, disclosure of erotic photos or videos without the owner's consent leads to defamation or injustice, based on Articles 139 and 140 of the Penal Code.

Apps with Enhanced Security

From the suggestion of using the applications with an enhanced security system, Telegram considered rival of WhatsApp gained three million users in March this year because of the instability of other social networks. In the messenger, interested parties can create secret chats that promise privacy in conversations and allow them to send self-destructive messages.

When using the "secret chat" function, if the chat is deleted on one of the phones, it also disappears on the other. Also, messages expire after a while. The free app is available for Android, iPhone (iOS) and Windows Phone, as well as desktop and web versions. Thus, the platform can be an alternative for those who prefer this type of interaction.

Another platform that can be used for sharing Signal Messenger erotic content. The free service offers a recognized protection system in the software market, as indicated by the portal TechCrunch. Available to Google and Apple devices, all text and file exchange in the encrypted application and the user can set a timeout for the uploaded content to remain accessible.

  Using Signal, Super Safe Messenger for Android and iPhone Photo: Daniel Dutra / dnetc  Using Signal, Super Safe Messenger for Android and iPhone Photo: Daniel Dutra / dnetc

Using Signal, Super Safe Messenger for Android and iPhone Photo: Daniel Dutra / dnetc

There are other applications that also provide a less risky environment for sexting. This is the case with Snapchat, Dust and Stealthy. The former acts as a social network that keeps any shared material visible for a few seconds. In addition, it alerts you immediately if the sender makes a screenshot (screenshot). In Dust Messenger, conversations are not recorded on the platform or in the device memory. The message is deleted within seconds of viewing by the recipient and the message can also be deleted even after sending. The app also indicates if a screen registration is made.

Like Telegram, Stealthy is based on the Blockstack program, an Internet decentralizer. With this mechanism enabled, the system maintains the entire shared content with restricted access to members of the conversation. The three software are available for Google and Apple operating system as well as web version in the latter case.

Another form of expression incorporated into the practice of sexting is sexual emoji in messages. The stickers represent visually the intentions of those who send the message on messengers and social networks. In this way, they are able to contextualize the subject and bring nuances to virtual communication. Some common examples are: smiley face with an enigmatic look (), winking () or sending a kiss (), even more suggestive ones like tongue (), eggplant () and droplets (). Features can be very useful for those who like to flirt with virtual messages.

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