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Men are now sending dick pics to women on public transport using AirDrop

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Moya Crockett
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In a disturbing new phenomenon, men are ‘virtually flashing’ women in public by sending them explicit photos over AirDrop.

This ‘trend’ has most recently reared its head in New York, where women have reportedly been receiving unsolicited photos of penises while riding the subway.

The AirDrop function uses Bluetooth to transfer files (such as photos or videos) quickly and easily between iPhones, iPads and Macs. You can always refuse to accept an AirDrop file if you don’t recognise the sender – but since not everyone has their iPhone set up with their given name, it’s not always possible to determine whether you know the sender or not.

As a result, many women are falling into the trap of opening files from unknown senders and finding a dick pic.

A woman named Britta Carlson recently explained how she was flashed via AirDrop in an interview with the New York Post.



Carlson said that she was riding the subway on 27 July when she received a message reading: “iPhone 1 would like to share a note with you”. When she pressed ‘Accept’, she was suddenly confronted with a “huge close-up picture of a disgusting penis”.

airdrop

If AirDrop is set to 'Everyone', strangers will be able to send you files.

Because it uses Bluetooth, AirDrop only works if two Apple products are in close range of one another (approximately 100 metres). This meant that whoever who sent Carlson the photo was probably in the same subway carriage as her – but she couldn’t identify them.

“It really felt like someone had actually just flashed me,” she said.

The AirDrop app uses ‘Contacts Only’ as its default setting, which means that both the sender and recipient of a file have to be logged into iCloud and be in each other’s address books before they can interact.

Since this requires some effort, many users change their settings to ‘Everyone’ – for example, if they’re using AirDrop to exchange files with colleagues. But while this setting may be simpler, it also allows strangers to send you unwanted images, videos and messages.



Carlson said that she had her AirDrop switched to ‘Everyone’ after using it to share photos at work. “It never even crossed my mind that someone may use it to send stuff like that,” she said.

Neither is it only distressing sexual content that is being sent using AirDrop. In June, an American woman went viral after writing a Twitter thread about being sent a racist meme via the app.

Renee Bracey Sherman, a writer and abortion rights activist, said that she was waiting for a flight in Washington D.C. when she unexpectedly received a notification on her laptop saying that “Jacob’s MacBook Pro” wanted to send her a file via AirDrop. A preview tile showed an image of Pepe the Frog, a cartoon meme widely associated with white supremacists and the alt-right.

Bracey Sherman said that she searched the airport terminal until she saw a man with a MacBook who she suspected might be Jacob. When she confronted him about why he had sent her the meme, “he said he sent it to a bunch of people just for fun”, said Bracey Sherman.

“This s*** isn’t about a difference of politics,” she said. “It’s about threats. It’s about harassment. It’s about making people of colour feel unsafe… I want to wait for my four hour delayed flight in peace.

“I don’t want to look at your stupid f***ing racist meme, white supremacist Jacob.”

To make sure your AirDrop settings are turned off or set to ‘Contacts Only’ on an iPhone, simply swipe up on your home screen, tap ‘AirDrop’ and select the option you want. On a Mac, use the Finder tool to access AirDrop settings.

Main image: iStock

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Moya Crockett

Moya is Women’s Editor at stylist.co.uk, where she is currently overseeing the Visible Women campaign. As well as writing about inspiring women and feminism, she also covers subjects including careers, podcasts and politics. Carrying a tiny bottle of hot sauce on her person at all times is one of the many traits she shares with both Beyoncé and Hillary Clinton.

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