a novelty will facilitate… harassment

Edition iMessage iOS 16

The new version 16 of iOS was presented during Apple’s last keynote, at WWDC 2022, among other hardware and software announcements (summarized here). Among the novelties, many moreover, there are one that concerns the Messages app, and iMessage more specifically. it’s about the ability to edit and/or delete an iMessage up to 15 minutes after sending.

It’s a major change for Apple’s messaging app. Because despite its great popularity with iPhone owners, in terms of functionality, it is very late compared to what the competition offers, in particular the big names of the genre, WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal or even Facebook Messenger.

And precisely, this possibility of editing and deleting messages after sending has been present for several months with others, Slack or even Discord for example, two solutions that have experienced a massive gain in users during confinements in recent years.

At first, we can only welcome Cupertino’s approach to bring this function to iMessage. But in a second step, with a little hindsight, the Californian firm may have brought something to greatly facilitate harassment and invasion of privacy. Explanations.

An editing limit of +15 minutes? It’s too much

The current criticisms about this editing/deleting sent messages functionality mainly concern the time limit. She will be from 15 minutes in iOS 16. However, 15 minutes, as our colleagues at Apple Insider point out, is a long time. This leaves a lot of time for people with disabilities to perform unscrupulous manipulations to annoy a person. For instance :

  • spam a target with pornographic photographs for 15 minutes, before erasing everything to remove traces
  • requesting a target’s consent for certain statements, statements that the sender would later change while the recipient’s consent could not be revoked. In short, someone asks you: “do you like pizza?” You answer: “yes”. The initial text is changed to “would you like to kiss me”? Original answer: yes.
  • spam a target with abusive, racist, sexist, etc., before editing the text to remove any evidence
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Many abusive situations can be imagined, with people taking advantage of the feature to harass a victim without too much fear of getting caught. It should nevertheless be noted that, when an edition or deletion is made on a message that has already left, the recipient is informed of the modification.

Still, let’s think for a moment. What is such a feature originally used for? It is particularly useful in two situations that we all know:

  • a message sent by mistake to the wrong recipient: for example, you send a bad joke to a potential new romantic partner by mistake. The message was actually meant to be sent to a friend. Luckily, you can delete the message before it ruins your new relationship potential.
  • you make a gross mistake in a word, or the iPhone’s autocorrect replaces one word with another that completely changes the meaning of the sentence. And the recipient is a very important person to you. But you still validate the sending before rereading you. Luckily, you can edit the message to fix errors before the recipient reads you.

Except that in these cases, and the majority of other cases that one can imagine, it only takes one, two or maybe three minutes to correct the situation. Apple would therefore benefit from dividing its editing time limit by at least three. Especially since by reducing the delay to a shorter time, this would encourage senders to edit or delete their message quickly. They would therefore be more likely to act before their recipient reads their works.

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Finally, it should be remembered that the editing and deletion functionality after sending in the Messages app only concerns iMessage. By sending SMS (green bubbles in the Messages app – by long pressing on your text, then “send as SMS”), you will not be able to edit after sending.

What’s your opinion ? Is there any point in offering such a 15-minute time limit for editing and deleting an iMessage? Or do you think it only brings more danger, especially for young audiences?

 - Official App iPhon.fr

– Official App iPhon.fr

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