When nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities were stolen from Apple's iCloud and leaked online, the online privacy debate went viral.
The incident also highlighted how popular the practice is: 54 percent of U.S. adults participate in sexting, according to a recent study from security software firm McAfee. Sending racy texts, nude photos or explicit videos is most common among the 18-24 age group, with 70 percent saying they've received such a message.
With the risks so obvious, why do people do it?
Basic human instincts, experts said.
Our desire to connect is primal, but our daily lives are often physically disconnected, said Dara Greenwood, an associate professor of psychology at Vassar who studies mass media's impact on our perceptions of ourselves. Combined with the capabilities of today's technology, the selfie seemed inevitable (the naked selfie is an even more loaded phenomenon, she said).
"We derive a sense of self and identity from being seen, both literally and figuratively, and valued, so there is additional motivation to broadcast the self via photograph," Greenwood said. "In some ways the ubiquity of this photo-taking and sharing option may be overdetermining the behaviors that follow. In some basic sense, we take selfies because we can."