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Apple’s updated personal safety user guide fixes AirTag harassment issue – TechCrunch

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Apple’s updated personal safety user guide fixes AirTag harassment issue – TechCrunch

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After a number of stories over the past few weeks highlighted how Apple’s AirTags are being used for harassment, the company today updated its “User Guide”. of personal safety” with new information on what consumers should do if they find an unknown AirTag in their presence or hear someone make a sound. The guide specifically explains what AirTag alerts mean and what to do if they find an AirTag or other Find My network accessory that is tracking them. It even has instructions for Android users.

The addition to the guide was first spotted by sites 9to5Mac and AppleInsider. Apple confirmed to TechCrunch that the guide was updated today with AirTag information.

However, the guide itself is not new. The same manual previously offered information designed to help people concerned that their personal safety was at risk or who were worried about other ways to stalk or track them through Apple devices. Typically, this was to help people who had previously shared information with a partner and now wanted to make sure that person could no longer access their account, data, or location, among other things.

In the case of AirTag, however, it is not always a situation of domestic violence leading to harassment. A New York Times report, for example, highlighted how car thieves used AirTag devices to track and locate high-end vehicles they planned to steal. Others said they received alerts that they were being followed by an AirTag after leaving a public place, such as their local gym. Some parents were also using the devices to track their teenage children without letting them know, the story noted.

As Apple is the first major tech company in the lost item tracker space to implement proactive alerts about unknown Bluetooth trackers nearby, this has brought the harassment situation to light. As the NYT noted, some researchers believe that Apple’s AirTag did not necessarily create the tech harassment problem itself. Instead, it’s possible that the AirTag’s built-in alerts system actually revealed what was already a widespread problem. Unfortunately for Apple, this situation has become a public relations issue given how much the company has marketed itself as being focused on user security and privacy.

While various Apple spokespersons have provided statements to reporters covering AirTag harassment cases, the new guide now serves as a more formal form of documentation on the matter.

It walks users through what it means when they get an alert, why they might hear an AirTag making a sound, and how to use the new Tracker Detect app for Android. More importantly, it tells Apple support documentation what to do if you find an unknown AirTag tracking you, and how to make it play a sound if you can’t find it otherwise.

Along with the documentation update, the guide has also been released as a searchable website instead of just a PDF. This allows Google and other search engines to better index its content to direct users to the right page based on their search query. It may also be easier to keep the guide up to date as new personal safety material and advice becomes available.

Beyond AirTag information, the updated guide now also includes information about new Apple features that weren’t available when it was first published, such as Apple’s App Privacy Report or information that documents how to set up recovery contacts. Other new sections cover Home Kit and the Home app, private browsing mode, how to block people by messages, phone, FaceTime and email, how to take a screenshot to document suspicious activity and how to set up account recovery contacts.

Combined with existing information on managing account security and privacy, the new guide is a more comprehensive document than the previous version.

However, the problem with AirTag, in particular, wasn’t really the lack of documentation or consumer confusion about what to do, but the fact that the AirTags themselves are just too easy to use. for the purpose of harassment. Besides being affordable devices, their ringtones are sometimes not loud enough to be noticed, especially if the AirTag has been placed somewhere like under a car or behind a license plate. And alerts about unknown AirTags are too infrequent, privacy advocates argued. Apple has yet to address these and other complaints by changing AirTag functionality, but the release of the guide indicates that the company is at least well aware of the issue and is looking to provide some sort of resource for consumers.

Apple’s updated personal safety user guide fixes AirTag harassment issue – TechCrunch

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