By DANIELLE STROLIA

On September 26, the third wave of the tastelessly dubbed ‘Fappening’ hit the Internet. Cara Delevingne joined Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton as the latest victim of a hacker who has leaked private, nude and semi-nude photos of them and almost a hundred other female celebrities online.

When the first wave of photos was released on August 31, Ricky Gervais tweeted: “Celebrities, make it harder for hackers to get nude pics of you from your computer by not putting nude pics of yourself on your computer.”

Photo credit: http://www.rolereboot.org/culture-and-politics/details/2014-09-open-letter-jennifer-lawrence-naked-pictures/

Photo credit: http://www.rolereboot.org/culture-and-politics/details/2014-09-open-letter-jennifer-lawrence-naked-pictures/

Considering the number of times celebrities’ private photos have been leaked in the past 10 years, the advice is not realistic. ‘Sexting,’ the act of sending a sexually explicit selfie through means of social media or text messages, shows no sign of stopping. An easy assumption would be that such instances in the media dissuade young adults from taking private photos. Yet, Millennials today are sexting more than ever.

Why do people take sexts despite the risk? “People take naked selfies because they want reassurance that they are sexy,” said Alexandra Najmadin, a Swedish millennial relationship blogger. “It boosts their self confidence and allows a lot of their insecurities to disappear in that specific moment.”

A Pew survey from September 2013 found that 15 percent of adults aged between 18 and 24 have sent sexts and 44 percent have received them, both significant increases since 2012.

Smartphones have made sexting easier than ever but they offer a sense of false security. That’s what David Zemmels, an assistant professor of mass communication at Loyola University New Orleans, found in his research paper. “A smartphone or personal digital camera seems like something that we can easily control,” he wrote in an e-mail. In his research, he found that young adults are far more trusting in their cell phones and friends than they are of the Internet and social media.

This trust, however, is unfounded. Cell phones can be hacked or lost. A sext can be sent to the wrong number or forwarded without consent. “There are many recorded cases of the latter, especially after a break up,” Zemmels said. Indeed, the Pew survey found that six percent of those between the ages of 18 and 24 admit to forwarding a sext to a third party, thereby transforming a sext into nonconsensual pornography.

Nonconsensual pornography is, according to the End Revenge Porn campaign, “the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent.” The celebrity hacking falls under this definition, as does the distribution of images that were only meant to be shared with an intimate partner. “It’s the worst sort of humiliation you could ever go through because when you’re naked, you’re vulnerable,” blogger Najmadin said. She says there is an unspoken agreement that those photos are for their partner’s eyes only. “If that person leaked the photos, you’d feel betrayed, broken and feel like you could never trust someone again.”

Some Millennials are hesitant to sext because of these potential repercussions. “The Jennifer Lawrence leaks were a gross invasion of privacy, yet we are all aware that these photos may potentially be released somehow,” said Matthew Barich, a NYU senior. “I do not sext and instances like that reinforce my decision. You never know whose hands the photos may get into.”

Still, sexting shows no signs of slowing down for Millennials. That may not be a bad thing, argues Zemmels, who said that psychologists regard sexting as a part of growing up as well as a playful experimentation between sexual partners.

For many Millennials, the potential consequences are just that: potential. “The fear that the picture might be leaked some day doesn’t stop you from sexting,” concluded Najmadin. “In that moment, you’re in a bubble where you’re only thinking about taking that special picture for that special person.”