Can I make a sexy video and keep my job?
November 11, 2011 7:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm making a sexy video for someone, but want to make sure there's no way it could be traced back to me if he shares it. Keeping my face/identifying marks off screen (obviously), but what about technologically? Recording with iSight on my macbookpro, maybe an edit or 2 in iMovie, then send the file thru gmail. Will anyone be able to trace it back to this macbook?

Mac OS X
Lion 10.7
(Really don't want friends/family/high school classmates to ever know I did this, but don't mind strangers seeing if I get to keep my anonymity.)
posted by anonymous to Technology (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
They won't be able to trace anything like that in that way, assuming of course you don't add that kind of data yourself, but I would be worried more that HE might let slip who it is, or otherwise be the cause of your identity leakage somehow. (Say, if his gmail is compromised.)
posted by StrikeTheViol at 7:35 PM on November 11, 2011

Keep in mind, there is nothing to stop him from adding titles to the video saying "Here's a sexy video of my girlfriend, Anonymous!"
posted by Rock Steady at 7:38 PM on November 11, 2011 [6 favorites]

There's nothing "hidden" embedded in the movie file that personally identifies you, if that's what you're asking. You should take common-sense precautions like not showing your naked body against a background that obviously identifies you. It seems like you've already got that covered.

StrikeTheViol makes a good point, and I think that's certainly your weakest link. The idea of making a video without identifying features is that even if somebody were to say "hey, that's aaronbeekay in that video hanging naked from the slide on a children's playground with his head out of the frame", the video is generic enough that they wouldn't be able to prove it.

Of course, if somebody is familiar enough with your body, they will probably be able to recognize it, but at that point you're probably not worried about them seeing you naked.
posted by aaronbeekay at 7:41 PM on November 11, 2011

Oh, yeah, though, I might not send it from my Gmail account, just because that's an obvious place for people to snoop around. What about uploading it to a Dropbox public folder, say, and then sending them a link? Then you can delete the file after it's been sent and anybody who snoops around will just find a broken link.
posted by aaronbeekay at 7:43 PM on November 11, 2011

If you really don't want anyone to ever know you made it that might be tough; automatic recognition technologies get more and more sophisticated every year. For example, the latest hotness is gait recognition, which uses video of someone walking - even from pretty far away - to measure the precise way someone moves their legs and body (as well as the shape and length of their legs and other body measurements) and identify them automatically. Google and Facebook analyze photos en masse to compile databases matching pictures to names as likely will more and more companies and organizations as time goes on.

So it seems possible to me that eventually there will be software and databases that can identify people based upon minor details of part of the body like a pattern of freckles on your neck or arms or the locations of follicles in your armpit hair or pubes. In the long term, if the video you make gets out on the internet and becomes preserved in porn archives, there's some likelihood it might be linked to you a decade or two down the road. (Though hopefully that'll be happening to enough people at that point that it isn't a big thing.)

As others mentioned in the short term the greatest risk is him intentionally linking your name with it or something like GMail getting hacked, or for another example a virus compromising someone's computer could be a problem.

As far as problems related to your computer, the traceability issue I've frequently seen is caused by your user account having your name in it and the program you use to create the file embedding the original file path in it: so, if your name is "Jane Smith" and your account's name is "janesmith" then your files are usually kept under a folder like ".../Users/janesmith/..." and I have seen some image editing programs, at least, embed that original folder path into the created file.

Overall, HuronBob's advice is probably the best.
posted by XMLicious at 8:12 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are some metadata fields in most video formats which could contain information, but they usually don't contain anything more than e.g. "Created with iMovie 42.32" or a creation timestamp. Sometimes your account name or computer's name is included, though I've not seen that in videos— to be safer I guess you could create a temporary user account on your macbook for the filming + editing. (There are also some more arcane identification techniques using sensor noise or nonlinearity but unless you're doing "Sexy Wikileaks And Mexican Mob Informant" I don't think that's something to worry about. The most likely way you'll be discovered is if either you or he makes some sort of slip, accidentally or intentionally.)
posted by hattifattener at 8:19 PM on November 11, 2011

the latest hotness is gait recognition
fixed link

Email is never erased. Sending it through the net is like having your dirty pictures developed at the mall. If you must do this, hand it over in physical media (a CD or thumb drive) and blame him if it ever shows up online.
posted by ceribus peribus at 8:37 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

Don't do it. There is ALWAYS someone who can tell.

Me, my eyes would go straight to the background. Unless its a white sheet as a background.

And being perfectly frank...I've had a few longterm relationships...and a lot more short-term ones.

If some of my formers did this, I would be able to tell without seeing their face (even if they covered up their tats).

Do you really want x-boyfs to find this out?

And yes...there is ALWAYS a leak.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:39 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

blame him if it ever shows up online.

Yeah, but someone else cares less about it showing up online than the person actually in the video. Even if you can blame him, its not likely that you'll be able to bust him up in any court.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:41 PM on November 11, 2011

Oh good grief. You take a bigger risk every time you drive on the freeway.

If you want to protect your identity, ask for a similarly naughty video from the guy.
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:51 PM on November 11, 2011 [9 favorites]

These are kinda off-topic answers. Speaking strictly about technology, it's not hard to check for identifying metadata in a file. On your Mac, try this:

(1) Put the file on your desktop. For the sake of this example the filename is "".
(2) Open "Terminal" in your applications folder.
(3) Type this:

grep -i WORD ~/Desktop/foo.wmv | wc -l

but replace the word 'WORD' with your Macbook username, or your real first name (or any other piece of data you suspect might appear in the file). In both cases it should output the number 0. That means you're good. If it says any number other than 0, the file contains an identifying bit of data.
posted by zvs at 9:10 PM on November 11, 2011 [5 favorites]

grep -i WORD ~/Desktop/foo.wmv | wc -l

Or just:

strings ~/Desktop/foo.wmv | grep -i WORD

If anything is there, it'll show up in the response.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:20 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

Or even just:

strings ~/Desktop/foo.wmv

...if you're curious about what text gets embedded in the file.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:38 PM on November 11, 2011

Read this.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:30 PM on November 11, 2011 [6 favorites]

Oh, I forgot the most direct answer to your question: digital camera fingerprinting. Every digital camera has a variety of microscopic flaws in the sensor that produces the image and researchers have developed a technique using this that can confirm that different images come from the same camera.

So, if you make your sexy video, someone with the right tools could compare it to other images you've posted elsewhere and confirm that they both came from your laptop's camera.
posted by XMLicious at 12:25 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you have any doubts then, as HuronBob said, don't do it. You haven't said whose idea this was, if his then doubly don't do it. Tell him to come and see in person.
posted by epo at 4:18 AM on November 12, 2011

The rule with nude photography/videos is to ask yourself how you'd feel if it came out with your name attached. There are some tasteful professional nudes of me out there. I'm okay with that, but if I were ever to run for political office in my country I'm both A) Canadian, and the culture up here is pretty chill and B) Very likely to either be running on a radical socially left platform or have undergone such a flip of personality that disavowing my sinful past will help add the right repent narrative.
posted by Phalene at 8:46 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

And don't forget websites like the one mentioned in this article:
posted by lulu68 at 11:09 AM on November 12, 2011

Not to be a buzzkill here, but you said "high school classmates." If you are under 18, please just wait! Wait to consider doing the video until you are older. I think the laws are often misguided here, but we've seen teenage girls get in legal trouble just for sexting a pic to their boyfriends. An entire video, who knows what could happen.

If I misread your question, and you meant, people you went to high school with 10 years ago, or whatnot, my apologies.

I'm all about grown folks having their fun, and I've definitely engaged in some sexting, but I want to make sure above all that you won't be potentially getting legal trouble. Not to mention emotional trouble.
posted by manicure12 at 8:43 PM on November 13, 2011

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