It seems that even when underground on public transport we’re not safe from unsolicited dick pics, thanks to a horrifying new form of “cyber-flashing.”
People are receiving unsought sexually explicit photos via AirDrop on their iPhones while travelling on public transport and hanging out in public spaces. Yep, that means people don’t even need your phone number or email address to be able to send you an unwanted sexual message. Depressing, isn’t it.
New York-based Juliet Jeske said she had set up her phone to accept AirDrops from a co-worker who needed to send her some audio files. But, she wasn’t aware that her AirDrop settings meant that complete strangers were able to send stuff to her.
“I was sitting in a crowded subway car during morning rush hour when I got an air drop from an account called something like ‘Big Dick Daddy’. She said the photo popped up “out of nowhere” and she had no idea where the man was. “I immediately turned my phone off and then set it up so I wouldn’t accept any AirDrops,” says Jeske.
Alarmingly, this kind of activity is all too common. “When I told my friends about it at work they said it had all happened to them too. I had no idea that this was a thing,” Jeske continued. A simple Twitter search shows that people in major cities are being indiscriminately targeted in public spaces.
So, what exactly can you do about receiving unwanted sexually explicit messages from total strangers?
Change your AirDrop settings now
To protect your phone—and eyes—from the plague of unsolicited dick pics, you should change your AirDrop settings immediately. It’s dead easy to do, thankfully. Just swipe up from the bottom of your screen and hit the “AirDrop” button underneath your brightness settings.
Change your AirDrop settings from “Everyone” to “Contacts Only” or—if you want to be extra safe—”Receiving Off.”
Retain the image
The British Transport Police (BTP) is taking a very hard stance on the AirDropping of dick pics, stating that the public should be able to travel on public transport without experiencing “unwanted sexual behaviour of any kind—be it verbal, physical or via technology.”
“Receiving an indecent image from someone you don’t know can be very distressing and something we take very seriously if reported to us,” says detective chief inspector Kate Forsyth.
Whenever we receive an unwanted dick pic, it’s pretty normal to feel the urge to erase it from your phone so you never have to see it ever again. But, Forsyth advises retaining the image so offenders can be brought to justice through the courts.
Forsyth says that offenders may think they can “hide behind modern technology,” but they “leave a digital footprint” when they send these messages. This can result in being “caught, arrested and ending up on the sex offenders register.” So, let that be a warning to anyone thinking of trying this out on AirDrop.
Your next step is to report the matter to the police as soon as you can, says Forsyth. If you don’t fancy making a phone call then text 61016 to notify a member of the BTP.
“We have a dedicated Cyber Crime Unit who can analyse mobile phones and track data transfers back to suspects’ devices,” says Forsyth. “We will take you seriously and investigate what happened,” she added.
Transport for London (TfL) echoes this advice, stating that it’s determined to “stamp out” unwanted sexual behaviour on London’s transport network.
“We urge you to report it to the British Transport Police who can use the image to trace who sent it,” says Siwan Hayward, TfL’s head of transport policing.
So, while AirDropping dick pics might sound like a funny prank to some, the authorities think it’s far from a laughing matter.