Delete function in iMessage: Fear of abuse potential

In the future, it will be possible to edit messages in Apple’s communication service and also remove them afterwards. This is not only good, fear victim protectors.

Löschfunktion in iMessage: Fear of abuse potential

Apple’s new operating systems, which are to be released in the fall, provide two important new functions for the company’s proprietary communications service, iMessage – and there is now a dispute about them.

Harassment deleted

An attorney who specializes in protecting victims of abuse and violence in relationships has called on Apple CEO Tim Cook to reconsider whether the service should really have an edit and delete feature for messages already sent in the future. “As an advocate for survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault, I am telling you that [the new features] may cause additional harassment and additional injury to victims,” Michelle Simpson Tuegel said in an open letter.

Simpson Tuegel is particularly concerned that abusers could use the new capabilities to send harmful content to their victims – knowing that they could destroy the potential evidence again.

Simpson Tuegel said that while iMessage is not the only messaging platform that allows editing and deletion, the app is the most popular on the iPhone. But the app is the default application on the iPhone and is the foundation of the operating system, he said. “It has a significantly larger role than other platforms in the way people communicate, especially in the U.S.”

Currently only new systems

Currently, deletion and editing only work on iOS 16, macOS 13, iPadOS 16 and watchOS 9, which are in developer beta. Apple will indicate when a message has been modified, but not the changes. Deletion is limited to a quarter of an hour after sending – which should not deter criminals, however, because they can always see that a message has been delivered (the read receipt can be turned off). The functions are not yet available on older iPhones, Macs, iPads and Apple Watch computer watches – it is unclear whether they will be retrofitted. Neither deleting nor editing work here, the messages remain unchanged.

Apple has not yet commented on the possible dangers of the new iMessage functions. However, the group had implemented a “Safety Check” function in iOS 16, which should make it easier to avoid abuse and stalking by a close person. This makes it possible to disable access on third-party devices, and Apple gives potential victims tips and information on what they can do to prevent cybertracking.

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