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Plugged In: Sex Scandals Made Easy

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Oh, technology. You bring us fabulous new discoveries, connect us with humans across the globe, and make sex scandals much, much juicier. What once were salacious accusations without evidence are now proven indiscretions displayed in excruciating detail, thanks to the way technology has insinuated itself into our most intimate moments. How do you keep your naughty bits out of technology's bytes?

  Avoid Storing Naughties Online

Whether it’s a racy photo album on Facebook, a steamy private Twitter account, naughty Meebo chat transcripts hosted on their website, or any of the other hundreds of ways you can store personal media online, there are risks no matter how “private” it looks.

Privacy policies aren’t set in stone. While you may have thoroughly checked out a site or service before trusting it with your sexy tidbits (you do check the Terms of Service for the company’s policies on explicit content, right?), those policies may change at any time. Facebook’s multiple privacy upheavals this year are a prime example of how little control you have over your content once you hand it over to a service.

Hacking isn’t just for celebrities. Netizens everywhere are experiencing a pretty high incidence of hacking this year. While it's mostly to use Twitter accounts and e-mail addresses for spamming purposes, it still involves hackers gaining access to your account, which means they could potentially change your password, erase your data, or expose it all. Change your password frequently and be sure to use very strong passwords—there are many sites that will tell you the strength of a proposed password, so you can check before you begin using it.

Aliases are your friend. There are plenty of services you can subscribe to which are anonymous or nearly so, and using something like this can give you extra layers of protection. A Twitter account with a name and avatar not obviously connected to you, registered to a Gmail account equally uninvolved, will protect you pretty well from online intrusions. However, it won’t do much if someone spies you logging in on your computer or sees that your iPhone social application automatically logs in to that account.

  Keep An Eye On Your Phone

Text messages are in sex-scandal news all the time these days, and no wonder. It's an easy way to get your freak on in those moments of downtime you have on busy days, and it seems like they're always getting released to the press. And now that the iPhone 4 has that nifty front-facing camera for “video chat,” quite a few of us will be toting X-rated videos of ourselves in our pockets. What's a privacy-conscious perv to do?

Protect your phone. If you're getting your freak on through text messages (“sexting”), snapping naughty cellphone pictures, using the video chat for dirty purposes, or read porny emails or websites on your phone, you might want to make sure that information doesn't go wandering around without you. Password-protect your phone if you can, and make a habit of keeping your phone in your pocket or otherwise on your person rather than leaving it on tables or in bags. Some phones, including iPhones, have a “killswitch” available that will allow you to remotely disable the phone if you realize it's missing.

Know your “correspondents.” Texting, e-mailing, and video chatting on your phone doesn’t only leave a trail on your phone; it leaves a trail on the phone or computer of the person you’re corresponding with. This is how Tiger Woods’ mistresses and Jesse James’ dalliances end up exposing relationships those guys really would rather have kept secret. (Of course, the other tip for keeping your private life private is not to do things like cheating...)

Have an exit plan. Since you don’t have control over the copies of your correspondence that inevitably exist, spend a minute thinking about what you’ll do if your partner “goes public,” their cell phone is stolen, or you’re otherwise exposed. This is also a good time to consider whether some of the more left-of-mainstream stuff you’d like to chat about is best kept for when you see your sweetie in person. Assess your risk: a well-respected executive sending their spouse a text about getting head carries less risk than a schoolteacher receiving photos on their cell phone of their lover engaging in age play.