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Sending nudes is one way that young people flirt online. But it’s important to remember it can be risky. If your relationship changes or things go wrong, it can make you feel embarrassed, scared or unsafe, and may lead to more serious issues. We’ve put together some things to think about before you hit send.

Make sure you’re both feelin’ it

Just like IRL, no one should ever feel pressured to do anything sexual. If you feel even slightly uncomfortable, it probably means it's not for you right now. Check out this video, this screenshot and this article for some creative ways to say, ‘Thx, but no thx.’

You should also make sure the other person is 100% into the idea before you start shooting off steamy pics. This means an enthusiastic ‘yes’ from both parties before you send anything. And remember, it’s fine for either of you to bail at any time if you change your mind. Consent needs to be mutual, enthusiastic and continuous. Read more about sexual consent here.

Set the ground rules

Have a chat about what you both want before things get hot ‘n’ heavy, to avoid any misunderstandings. Be clear about what you expect the other person to do with your nudes (i.e. delete them pronto) and whether they are allowed to show them to anyone else. Make sure you communicate this with them before you send anything. And it’s important to remember that any agreement could change in the future, so at the end of the day it all comes down to trust.

Have a game plan

You might also want to talk about how you want to send each other nudes. There’s no foolproof way to safely send your nudes, but an app like Snapchat allows you to send pics that self-destruct after a few seconds. However, these rules will only keep you feeling safe if you actually trust the other person. No app can protect you against screenshots (or the old-fashioned version, physically taking pics of the screen), so you can never know for sure where your nudes will end up.

Make sure it’s legal

If you or the person you’re exchanging nude pics or vids with is under 18, it’s illegal. No matter what age you are, it’s against the law to harass anyone for nudes. Check out LawStuff to learn more about the laws in your state or territory and send them a Lawmail if you need advice. It’s important that you think about the big picture before you hit send.

Don’t be a jerk about it

Repeat after me: it’s never okay to share someone’s nudes without their consent. Sharing nudes without consent is a huge breach of trust and privacy – not to mention unlawful in most states and territories. Think about how your actions will affect the other person. Having intimate pics shared online can damage their self-esteem and cause anxiety, panic attacks, or feelings of humiliation and shame. It could even get them fired or cause other people to verbally or physically harass them.

If someone forwards you a nude, and you don’t think it was meant for your eyes, delete it. If you feel confident, you can tell the sender that you think it’s a pretty jerk move to share people’s private pics.

Think about what could go wrong

Despite what the news or your 'rents say, not every nude ends up plastered all over the dark web. But, it is worth considering how you’d feel if the pic went public. Once pics hit the net, it’s super easy for them to be saved and shared. Which means the pic you took for your gf or bf could end up in anyone’s hands. Once pics are online, they can also stick around for a really long time. With that in mind, it’s a good idea not to include your face or other identifiable features (such as tattoos or birthmarks) in any ‘intimate’ pics.

Talk to a friend

Chances are, your mates have been in a similar situation. It might be a good idea to talk to your friends about whether they’ve sent nudes before and what they’ve done to keep safe. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your friends, consider speaking to a trusted adult.

What can I do now?

  • If someone has shared a ‘personal’ pic or vid of you without your consent, read this article to find out your options.
  • Read up on sexual consent and remember, whether it’s online or IRL, both people need to consent.
  • If you’ve got nudes on your phone or comp and you’re not sure if it’s okay for you to have them, or you’re worried that other people might access them, delete them.