[LIFE AND TECH]<br />
Can Sexting Ever Be âSafe?â<br />

Before we begin, let me be quite clear: I am not encouraging the practice of sexting among anyone under the age of 18. And if there are any politicians reading this, I am also not promoting this practice with a non-consenting adult either. And if I was really practicing full disclosure, I'd also have to say that the folks at Snapchat would probably insist that theirs is not a 'sexting' app at all. But for those adults that are of age and might like to spice things up a bit using the technological advances we have available to us, read on...

Snapchat, launched in 2011 but only gaining popularity recently, is an app that allows you to send photos or videos to someone that will "self-destruct" after a specified amount of time. Once the user receives and opens the message, they only have up to ten seconds to view it before it is deleted from their smartphone. And although sexting may not have been the primary motivation for the app (so they say), Snapchat has become extremely popular for the 25-and-under set, and it appears they are using it for that very reason. A quick search on Tumblr returned plenty of evidence that Snapchat photos aren't necessarily PG-rated, but it also showed that they linger a lot longer than they should.

That's where the problem comes in. The fail safe that is built into the app is supposed to notify the sender if the recipient tries to save the photo or video to their smartphone. So if someone tried to use their screenshot function to save a picture, you would be notified.  Although I'm not sure how that would help anyway other than to teach you a hard lesson about who you choose to send naked photos to (because they still get to keep the pic).

Here's the workaround: if someone connects their smartphone to a computer and finds and saves the files before they open the message on the phone, they get to keep a permanent record of whatever was sent, with the sender being none the wiser. Snapchat developers have promised a fix, but it has yet to be implemented in the app.

To borrow a popular phrase, what happens on the Internet stays on the Internet - forever.  As long as there are 15-year old hackers, someone will always find a way to get around any security feature online. It can be fun and exciting to share a racy moment with a loved one but it's up to you to exercise this right responsibly.  Practice safe sex and safe sexting!

Follow tech-life expert Stephanie Humphrey on Twitter.