Eagerly anticipated iOS 16 feature could destroy marriages and other relationships

Eagerly anticipated iOS 16 feature could destroy marriages and other relationships
Sometime over the next three months, Apple will release iOS 16. Two big new features are coming to the next iteration of the operating system; one is a customizable lock screen that allows users to make changes to the color of the clock on the lock screen and to the font being used on the display. Weather animations will bring a thunderstorm to life, and lock screen settings can be integrated to separate Focus Mode settings.

Apple is making changes to iOS 16 that could backfire on victims of sexual harassment

In other words, a different lock screen can be created for work with another one made for sleep. Developers will be able to add custom widgets and iOS users, seeking to view sports scores in real time, will be able to see the scores as the games progress. For example, rather than following a game by viewing 50 notifications with each showing the score of the same game, a live widget can be used that shows score changes in real time.

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As announced at WWDC earlier this month, exciting changes are coming to the iMessages feature in iOS 16. Users will be able to edit messages, "unsend" messages, and even have messages "unread." And while these are features that iPhone users have yearned for, they could backfire. Several Twitter users spoke out about how, by allowing iPhone users to edit, "unsend," and "unread" iMessages, relationships including marriages, could crumble.

The ability to edit iMessages could be dangerous to victims of sexual harassment. In a letter dated June 14th and written to Apple CEO Tim Cook, attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel asked Cook to make some changes to the new features. With iPhone users having 15 minutes to edit or delete a message, that gives a bad actor the ability to send a threatening email to a victim and still have 15 minutes to hide the threat as though it never existed.

During the 15 minutes, the bad actor could edit the message several times. In her letter, Simpson Tuegel wrote, "It is not uncommon for abusers in these types of situations to deny they even sent abusive messages at all, using their victim’s trauma to "gaslight" them into no longer believing they have been victimized."

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There is plenty of time before iOS 16 is released for Apple to make some changes One solution suggested by Simpson Tuegel is to reduce the time frame given users to edit and delete their messages from 15 minutes to two minutes. This would make it unclear in the mind of the bad actor that he will be able to make the necessary deletions in time without getting caught.

Michelle Simpson Tuegel writes to Tim Cook asking him to make the necessary changes to protect victims of sexual abuse

When the sender of a message edits or "unsends" a message, users are informed. But they are not told what the message actually said before the deletion or the edit of the message. And those iPhone users not running iOS 16 will be able to see the original message.

The Simpson Tuegel law firm suggests that users be allowed to opt out of the edit/delete feature. By doing so, users would not be able to edit or delete their messages. With iOS 16, a "Recently Deleted" feature will allow users to read messages that have been deleted for up to 30 days. After 30 days, these messages are permanently deleted and are gone forever. The user can manually delete messages before the 30-day period ends.

The letter from the attorney ended by saying, "Apple is a leader in the technology industry, and the rollout of these new iMessage features provides the company an opportunity to lead by example and influence how other messaging platforms should protect their users from harassment and abuse."

Michelle Simpson Tuegel has appealed to Tim Cook to make the changes needed to toughen up the new features. "While I do not believe Apple is purposefully seeking to engage in any harm by the announcement of its new iMessage feature," she writes, "I hope you will take these concerns seriously to ensure the rights of victims and survivors are respected and accounted for."

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