Sex is a lot more complicated than it used to be, and a lot of the reasons for that have to do with how we conduct ourselves online. More people than ever are engaging in virtual sex, which means that private information is constantly being swapped and shared over the internet — and as you can probably suspect, security and privacy can become an issue.
So, what is virtual sex? Basically, it can be defined as any type of sexual communication that happens over a digital platform. It could be anything from sexting to a one-night stand on Zoom to sending nudes.
In order to determine how to engage in safe virtual sex, Iman Hariri-Kia, Bustle's sex and relationships editor, spoke with Alison Falk, founder of Women of Sex Tech. Here are some of the lessons to take to heart if you're going to be engaging in any kind of sexual activity online.
Be politely paranoid
"If it's someone you just met, or someone you don't know that well," Falk says, "maybe you don't want to show your face. Or maybe you don't show any visible tattoos or scars on your body. It's also important to watermark the content you're sending."
Consent is really important.
"Whatever you put out there, you don't know where it's going to end up or what people are going to do with it," Falk says. "You don't know who's going to be handle that person's phone and you don't want to accidentally send something to someone's grandmother."
Use the right tools
"I always refer people to Signal," Falk explains. Signal is a messaging app — it's free for everyone and independent (not owned by Facebook). Even Edward Snowden uses it. "Signal has end-to-end encryption, and what that means is that whatever data is being sent or stored is encoded. Signal supports video calls, it supports texting, and it also has disappearing messages."
Keep the conversation going
Once you've sent the nudes, the conversation doesn't end there. You need to have a conversation with the person you sent it to and make sure you're both on the same page.
Remember there's always risks
Everything is always hackable, so if you're going to send nudes (even if you do it safely), you have to understand there is always a risk.
See more tips on how to have safe sex online in the video above.
Host: Iman Hariri-Kia
Expert: Alison Falk
Executive Creative Director: Lauren Sofair
Executive Producer: Whitney Buxton
Producer: Lauren Tegtmeyer
Director of Photography: Marshall Stief
Camera Operator: Jasmine Velez
Design Director: Andenew Ayele
Motion Designer: Jeff Donlan
Editor: Charlotte Carpenter