Sexting's kinda like real sex: there's no completely safe way to do it, but that's almost part of the fun, right? Studies show that one in five smartphone owners have used their devices to send explicit pictures of themselves, and it's probably safe to assume that most of those people have no plans to become involuntary Internet porn stars a la Anthony Weiner.
Fortunately, you don't have to hang up on sexting just yet; there are plenty of free apps available to decrease the risk that your sextual activities will be exposed. We've rounded up five of these e-condoms. Looking for extra peace of mind when sending sensitive shots to someone special? Consider protecting yourself with one of these apps.
Censored Camera's main menu
What It Does: Even if you're using apps that automatically delete your flirty photos, there's nothing to stop someone from taking screenshots of your message and spreading them around the Web. Censored Camera lets you hide any identifying features by covering them with various images like swirls, stars and tabloid-style "CENSORED" bars. Whether hiding your face or that embarrassing Guns 'n Roses tattoo everyone knows about, you can sleep soundly knowing no one can prove that "nekkidpic.jpg" is actually you.
Censored Camera doesn't offer its own private messaging service for sending edited photos, so it's best used in conjunction with another app. Use it to doctor your photos before sending them to someone you love.
Pros: Censored Camera is fairly easy to use, and I got the hang of its tools within five minutes. Its effects can be resized and rotated, which means you can either just barely cover your face or hide everything but your sexy parts.
Cons: Quite frankly, some of this app's censor images are absolutely hideous. The worst offenders are the pixelized faces, which look like the stuff nightmares are made of.
Good luck getting turned on with that staring at you.
What It Does: Fancy Snap sets your sensitive transmission to self destruct in three, five, 10 or 15 seconds. After sending an image, its recipient will receive a text directing them to a link. This will open your message in their Web browser, at which time a "Mission:Impossible" style countdown begins.
This message will self-destruct in 5... 4...
Pros: The app keeps track of whether your messages are currently read or unread, and when they've been deleted. Fancy Snap doesn't require an account like other similar apps, allowing you to fire away whenever the mood strikes.
Cons: I found the short amount of time Fancy Snap keeps your pictures alive to be rather limiting. Its lengthiest option clocks in at only 15 seconds, which makes it great for sending tantalizing teases but not much else. If you want a more long term relationship with your photos, consider trying this next app.
What It Does: While quite similar to Fancy Snap in the sense that it gives your messages an auto - delete feature, Tiger Text's time range stretches from five minutes to several days. Unlike Fancy Snap, all messages are stored within Tiger Text rather than showing up as links. However, this means you do need to set up an account before getting your sext on.
This puppy knows how to protect its privacy.
Pros: Because you can allow your pictures to stick around for a few days, Tiger Text is perfect for when someone special's gone for the weekend and you want to remind them of what they're missing. It's also quite secure, as messages are erased not only from both parties' phones but your cell phone provider's server as well.
Cons: OK, like I said it's great having the option to keep messages around for longer. However, the shortest time limit I could assign on my Android phone was five minutes. What's a sexter to do if they want that evidence erased after two minutes? After all, the longer nude pictures hang around, the greater the risk they'll end up in the wrong hands.
What It Does: Privy's an Android-only app that allows someone to view your message only once before it is automatically deleted. Based on my experience, it's the best way to avoid an image leak, although that isn't necessarily always a positive attribute.
Pros: Unlike Fancy Snap or Censored Camera, Privy's icon doesn't prominently feature a woman's breasts. How discrete.
Cons: Unlike every other app mentioned so far, Privy doesn't allow users to select photos from their phone's gallery, meaning you'll need to take a new picture for every message. That could be fun, but it also gets pretty annoying.
The reason I found Privy the most secure app of all is mainly because ... well, it just didn't work. Every message I sent directed the receiver to open a link, which would then prompt them to install Privy, even when it was already installed. When I received messages over the app , I got the same response. Basically, if you want no one other than you to see your sexts, get Privy.
You can still leak messages yourself. Here everyone, meet my house mate.
What It Does: Designed specifically for couples, Pair offers multiple ways of keeping in touch beyond trading revealing images. Sure, you can post pictures of yourself in the buff knowing only one other person will receive them, but if that gets boring, you and yours can sketch together on Pair's live drawing feature. You can even "thumbkiss", which requires both users to press their thumbs on the same spot of their phone screens. When you're matched up, the phone vibrates!
Think Instagram, but for feelings
Pros: Because Pair only allows messages to be sent between two linked users, there's no risk of accidentally sending your sexy images to the wrong person, which apparently happens quite often. If you're more of a relationship-only sexter rather than someone who sexts as foreplay to a fling, Pair's additional features add a nice emotional element. It's like virtual cuddling following cyber sex!
Cons: There's no way to prevent your partner from downloading images posted on Pair. While it is possible to delete pics manually, keep that in mind before sending your provocative pictures.
If done right, sexting can be a great way to spice up a long-distance relationship or a make short-term fling even sweeter. But you don't want just anyone seeing your wild side. So be safe. Always sext with protection.