Cyber-flashing is becoming more common and as yet it isn’t a crime. There are several petitions online to make cyber-flashing a crime and in a recent YouGov report, 53% of millennial woman (18 to 34-years-old) has received an unsolicited sexual image online
We already have the problem where anyone can send you a message on Facebook for example and you have to accept or decline, but too often people accept the message especially if they are friends with a mutual friend, we assume they are safe which is not the case when we open the message and there’s that dreaded pic.
Women often find when they join dating sites that after a few messages they get sent the dreaded dick pic, but now AirDrop is making it easier than ever for strangers close by to send those exact pictures.
Cyber-flashing via Apple’s AirDrop has the power to intimidate victims because of the anonymity and proximity of the perpetrator – AirDrop only works within a 30-foot radius. But the victim can decline the message before opening, which stops the images downloading.
A personal experience story discussed with BBC News talked about a woman who was travelling work on the tube and received a message on her iPhone asking whether she wanted to accept or decline a nude picture from a stranger via AirDrop.
The man in question had used a filter to make his body slimmer, blur out the background and was posing in front of a mirror with an erect penis.
She was left feeling humiliated and embarrassed as she knew the person in question had to be close by to be able to AirDrop to her. So not only was her privacy invaded by this action by the unknown person was there in the carriage with her.
She looked all around trying to see if she could recognize him, she thought she saw him based on his size and shape but was unsure. As she exited the tube, he sent her another picture!
On the escalator, she saw him again and he had his photos open and the AirDrop box below it. When she looked at him, he looked straight into her eyes but she was too scared to challenge him but gave him an angry look hoping it conveys her disgust to him.
She was left feeling as if she was a weak person, humiliated and unable to defend herself, those feelings stayed with her the whole day and since then the incident plays out over and over in her mind.
If you Google ‘AirDropping nudes’ pictures on the Tube’ you will find plenty of incidents being faced by people who use Apple devices.
How does AirDrop work?
The AirDrop was launched in 2011 by Apple as a way to file share with people using their data wirelessly on the move, what it didn’t anticipate was that they were giving another way for women to be sexually harassed.
AirDrop can be used to share videos, photos, contacts and other documents, but it does only work between Apple products.
Using the combinations of Bluetooth and Wifi, both must be activated for a device to receive and send anything via AirDrop, the personal hotspot option must be set to off.
AirDrop only works on iOS7 or later. Under the general settings menu, Apple users can use the option to select to have it switched off as default.
Android devices have a similar app called Android Beam which works using NFC (near field communication) – NFC is best known for being used in contactless payments. Turning off NFC disables Android Beam.
The advice given is to have the options set to either off when out in public or set to contacts only to prevent unwanted intrusions by people who can see a nearby device as active and send pictures.
The tool means files can be shared instantly and easily between phones without a number being revealed.
When the victims of this intrusion report it to the police, they are told that it isn’t a crime and should just turn that setting off, but why should the onus be put on women turning apps and settings off just because some douche bag thinks it’s ok to send pictures or even make contact uninvited.
The point is not to tell women to stop using features on their devices, the point is to deal with the men sending these pictures it is sexual abuse by someone you don’t know!