McAfee, the security software firm known for its antivirus software, released a report in 2014 indicating that half of all adults have shared intimate content with someone else. That’s actually 12 percentage points more than folks who admit to sharing their passwords and 7 percentage points more than people who admit to sharing their bank details with someone else. 

Let’s put this in perspective. Look up from your computer. Anyone nearby? If so, and you know you’ve never shared an explicit text or email with someone, then this study means that they have. 

Some other interesting stats from that same study:

  • 37 percent of people have asked their ex to delete intimate photos and/or messages.
  • 30 percent of people admitted to cyberstalking or following their significant other’s ex on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
  • 73 percent of people have changed their passwords post breakups.
  • 14 percent of people have filmed sexual content with their mobile devices.

When it comes to teens, the statistics are equally worrying:

  • 11 percent of teen girls between the ages of 13-16 have sent or posted nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves.
  • 15 percent of teens who have sent or posted nude/semi-nude images of themselves say they have done so to someone they only knew online.
  • One in 10 sext senders say they have sent these messages to people they don’t even know.

Conclusively, taking explicit photos and texting them to someone is a bad idea. The risk versus reward is way too high, unless you work for Arousr is a service similar to the old 1-900 phone sex numbers, except Arousr sends you naughty texts (and photos). Interestingly, there is an entire industry built around provisioning sexual services via text message. A quick search of Reddit led me to a number of people (can’t tell if they are men or women) soliciting employment as sext operators. For example, Thicknjuicy669 is looking to make a few extra bucks sending out naughty texts during her normal day job:

"I just started as a PSO at a great company, but due to my day job I would love to add sexting to enhance earnings. It's been very tricky to find any companies to apply for. Even doing messenger while I'm not in the phone would be good, but I'm not sure how to get started. Does anyone have advice in this area? Thanks."

All of this is to say that there are lots of places where pictures can end up online. And increasingly the world in which we find ourselves is one in which we sometimes can’t control when pictures are taken of us.

Marketed only to college students, Yeti — Campus Stories is an app that describes itself as featuring “local pictures and videos by showing the most recent posts from users around you.” It’s like Snapchat except consisting mainly of sexually explicit and many times illegally captured photographs of college students in varying stages of drunkenness and undress. Apparently this app exists only to allow the posting of explicit photographs of people, many of whom are unaware that their photo has been captured. Like Snapchat, Yeti allows users to snap photos and then place small amounts of text across the photo itself. Unlike Snapchat however, the photos are many times sexual or show illicit drug use.

To the dismay of celebrities everywhere, explicit photos shared with someone have the potential to make their way to web. And, as Yeti proves out, many times we can’t control the photos taken of us. If you are considering sending a photo to someone, or already have, or worse if you’ve had your photo captured without your knowledge and it makes its way to the web, it’s not going away anytime soon. Ask your next employer.

In June 2014, studied the use of social media posts by employers to eliminate applicants from consideration for employment. Of note, 51 percent of employers in the study who used social media to evaluate the suitability of an applicant said they found content that helped them decided not to hire the applicant, up from 34 percent in 2012. The most common reason for removing an applicant from consideration? They had “posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information.”

Some of the things employers in the study uncovered on applicants’ or exiting employees’ social media profiles:

  • Profile included links to an escort service.
  • Posted a photo of a warrant for his arrest.
  • Posted an exercise video for grandmothers.
  • Applicant had sued his wife for shooting him in the head.
  • Candidate featured a pig as his closest friend.
  • Posted his dental exam results.
  • Bragged about driving drunk and not getting caught on several occasions.
  • Actively involved in a demonic cult.
  • Posted Sasquatch pictures he had taken.

Ultimately, people have a hard time managing their online presence. Either they post pictures of themselves or someone else does it for them. In neither case can they be controlled once they’re online. If you’re thinking about sending a naughty pic, if you’re deciding whether to add a little spice to your love life with your mobile phone, you might want to reconsider. Your career will thank you.