As more and more horny single people take the public health risk of breaking quarantine to bang, for the first time ever, jerking off on FaceTime actually seems responsible. But from the risk of hackers creeping on your intimate moments to the embarrassment of your screen freezing mid-orgasm, remote, online sex isn’t exactly safe (or easy) — especially if you have roommates and thin walls.
“There are risks no matter what platform you use, so it really depends on your own level of comfort,” warns Sarah Melancon, a sociologist, clinical sexologist and expert at The Sex Toy Collective. “At the very least, it’s a good idea to know what you’re dealing with to make informed choices.”
Which, of course, raises a couple of big questions: What platform is the most private and secure? And maybe more importantly, which one is the most user-friendly and conducive for Demolition Man-inspired sex?
Fortunately for you, we did the research and ranked the best and worst platforms for remote corona-boning — we wouldn’t want you to miss a second of all that digital boning, after all…
10) Facebook. Facebook publicly admits to reviewing photos and videos sent via Messenger, mostly to protect against child pornography — which is a significant mood-killer out the gate. Then, of course, there’s the company’s history of poor security vis a vis user data, like the scandal in which Cambridge Analytical harvested about 87 million Facebook users’ personal data, including as many as 1,500 private messages.
On top of that, Mark Zuckerberg has straight-up said that calls to #DeleteFacebook didn’t have any meaningful impact on his business. In other words, there isn’t a huge incentive for Facebook to care about user security. Plus, “Facebook wasn’t built for sexting, so it’s not the most convenient way to meet new people to dirty talk with,” explains Gabi Levi, founder of the erotica site Shag Story.
Not to mention, no one wants to cyber to completion and then accidentally catch a glimpse of their uncle’s Boomer memes. (If someone does, don’t fuck them.)
9) Instagram. In recent years, Instagram has seemed to finally catch on to the fact that people jack off while on their platform. As such, it now allows users to send disappearing photos and videos via Messenger a la Snapchat. And if a single peek isn’t enough, the sender can set the message to replay, where it will disappear after a second look. The disappearing feature, however, lends a false sense of security, because Instagram doesn’t notify the sender if their sexy message is ultimately screenshotted, a recipe for revenge porn. “There’s no notification if your conversation gets screenshotted, adding a whole ‘public’ element to the idea of having a sexy conversation, which can be a buzzkill,” Levi says.
Also, Instagram has many of the same privacy issues as its parent company — Facebook.
8) Snapchat. “Snapchat was designed with sexting and sending nudes in mind due to the ‘disappearing messages’ feature and the ‘screenshot notification’ feature,” Levi explains. The thing is, Snapchat users have figured out ways to screenshot and save snaps without notifying the sender. So if you’re sexting with someone who’s even a little tech savvy and shady, the biggest perk of this platform is a moot point. “Just be aware that people have found loopholes and ways to save your sexts without you noticing,” Levi says. “Make sure then that you trust the person with your sexy photos and messages.”
With the exception of putting a puppy filter on your butthole, there are better platforms for sexual activity.
7) Houseparty. A video-chatting app that was designed for friends and family to spontaneously walk into conversations seems like the worst place for a hookup, but tantric sex coach Sarrah Rose insists Houseparty “is the current go-to app for video sex during quarantine,” because it has “a light-hearted vibe that’s much different from the corporate vibe of Zoom.”
If you use Zoom or Skype for work, Rose raises a fair point about having a separate platform for your libido — at the very least, to keep some semblance of boundaries and professionalism in your life. There’s also a feature where users can “lock their door” so people cannot interrupt (that is, unless you’re looking for a spontaneous threesome).
6) Google Hangouts. As with Facebook, Google Hangouts may seem like a strange place for sex, but the disabled chat feature that makes messages disappear is part of the draw, Levi explains. Although with Google accounts, there’s always the potential of being signed into multiple devices at once. “If you don’t disable the chat, imagining your mom hopping onto your iPad or laptop where you’re having a sexy conversation might not be something you want to be thinking about,” Levi warns. “Not to mention, there have been news stories of hacking scams with Google Hangouts that are similar to the ones we’re hearing about with Zoom.”
5) Zoom. Many people hadn’t heard of Zoom before lockdown began, but it’s seen significant growth — and cyber-security issues — ever since shelter-in-place set in. Regarding those cyber-security issues: Zoom has had a number of breaches, like mistakenly routing traffic through China, where the internet is heavily monitored by the government. Morevoer, it’s been plagued by Zoom bombing, a practice where hackers flood meet-ups with porn and hate speech. And if you’re lucky enough to avoid these Zoom bombers, the onslaught of new users globally has led to more and more meetings crashing. If all of that doesn’t kill the mood, getting cut off at the 30-minute mark will.
In fairness, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan posted an apology at the beginning of April and announced a 90-day feature freeze to shift company resources toward security. With that in mind, it’s probably best to let this platform work out its kinks and work out yours elsewhere.
Moreover, it’s worth noting that Zoom technically bans obscene content, but as the company scrambles to adapt to its exploding user-base, the idea of being able to enforce this raises more privacy concerns than it answers. “Zoom has publicly said they will be enforcing their terms of service,” Melancon tells me. “However, it’s questionable how they’d know sex is happening on the platform if they truly don’t record your sessions; so some are questioning whether this is really enforceable.”
4) Skype. Like Zoom, Skype prohibits sexual conduct, but Melancon knows many webcam models who “have used Skype for years without any issue.” That’s why sex therapist Robert Thomas, co-founder of Sextopedia, argues Skype is the best platform for secure sex online, because while it isn’t fully encrypted, the company hasn’t had the same issues with data leaks as Zoom and others (especially given a much larger sample size). “The technology they use can be considered safe enough to share your intimate messages — both video and voice,” Thomas tells me.
The problem is, both users need to have Skype accounts to talk, so the real challenge is getting anyone under the age of 40 to use an interface this old.
3) Encrypted Messaging Platforms. Signal, Wickr and Confide are all messaging services that allow users to send photos and videos that are fully encrypted, self-destruct and cannot be downloaded or saved. For anyone who was too concerned with privacy to send nudes and videos before, this is their best bet in quarantine outside of morse code. “They’re the safest route, but they aren’t really sexting-specific,” Levi says. Still, she adds that they’re the top option for cyber sex with someone who you don’t totally trust.
2) FaceTime. FaceTime is free, requires no downloading and allows you to switch between your phone and laptop, giving you more options for angles. Like with most everything else on the list, it’s best used with someone you trust to not record the sex session. But if you have a lot of time in isolation, copyrighting your nudes can offer some measure of protection — or at least a payday for suing anyone who shares them.
The bigger drawback: It’s safe to assume that the NSA can record whatever data is transmitted through the phone or internet as they see fit. “Now, will they go take a look? Probably not, unless you’re a senator or someone important,” Melancon says. “But will you be able to let go and enjoy yourself, knowing that in the back of your head? That may vary from person to person, though for some it could add a layer of excitement.”
1) Good Ol’ Fashion Phone Sex. When it comes to having a remote hookup in quarantine, it may be best to stick with the classics. “Phone sex for singles right now is huge as people are realizing that they’ll have to adapt their sex lives to the current quarantined times,” Levi tells me.
As people are baking their own bread, sewing their own masks and getting back to the basics all around, phone sex is just another way to embrace simplicity in such a complicated time, only while capping it off with an orgasm. Not only does it allow both parties to fantasize without worrying about how they look, there’s more mystery and anticipation if the CDC ever does allow you to meet IRL. Most importantly, phone sex requires the kind of skill, focus and sense of humor that most people are looking for in a partner (even a casual apocalyptic one).
Sure, there’s a very, very small chance the NSA could listen in, but hopefully they’ll just be happy for you.