Sexting, like anything that’s fun, runs its risks – but a serious violation of privacy shouldn’t be one of them…

Sexting is nothing new… according to Communications researcher, Amy Adele Hasinoff, there’s even a story of a girl who eloped with a man that she met over the telegraph in 1886!

But what are the legal implications, and how does it affect your reputation (or even your teen’s reputation?)

In this talk, Hasinoff looks at problematic responses to sexting in mass media, law and education and offers practical solutions for how individuals and tech companies can protect sensitive (and, ahem, potentially scandalous) digital files.

This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxMileHigh, an independent event.

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What are the risks?

“Sexting is certainly risky, like anything that’s fun, but as long as you’re not sending an image to someone who doesn’t want to receive it, there’s no harm,” says Hasinoff.

“What I do think is a serious problem is when people share private images of others without their permission. And instead of worrying about sexting, what I think we need to do is think a lot more about digital privacy.

The key is consent

“If we think more about consent, we can have better privacy laws. Right now, we just don’t have that many protections. If your ex-husband or your ex-wife is a terrible person, they can take your nude photos and upload them to a porn site,” says Hasinoff.

“It can be really hard to get those images taken down. And in a lot of states, you’re actually better off if you took the images of yourself because then you can file a copyright claim.”

Sexting in South Africa

In 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Films and Publications Amendment Act that made revenge porn and “sextortion” illegal in South Africa.

Sextortion – What to do if you’re a victim of ‘revenge-porn’ or cyberbullying

Perpetrators could face between two and four years in jail and/or pay a fine of up to R300 000.

“For example, if an ex-lover, a former friend or a complete stranger maliciously shares explicit images or videos of you on social / online platforms or uploads them onto pornographic websites, you can lay criminal charges against them,” says lawforall.co.za. “Any sexually explicit images that are shared of anyone under 18 (even if both parties are under 18) may be classified as child pornography.”

Watch the informative 15-minute TEDTalk about how to “sext safely”