Thursday, January 03, 2013

Sexting app in rubbish news

For some reason I ended up watching Daybreak on ITV this morning (still half asleep I think) and the first story presented from the newspapers by one of their guests was regarding a "sexting" app on page 7 of the Daily Mail no I'm not going to provide a link as I'm sure you're not interested in seeing a sidebar of photos of underage celebs looking "all grown up" [shudder].

In essence this is an app that means the sender can destroy the photo sent after a set period of time. So send that photo of you looking stupid and no longer have to worry it's going to end up as a meme on a Demotivational Poster. Of course the media being the media  and the Daily Mail being the Daily Mail (unofficial slogan: Scary enough to print) instantly turns to how this could be used for "sexting" sending dirty pictures with no recourse as they've been deleted.

Fortunately one of the guests was Rosie Millard who pointed out that this was all a storm regarding something that has not happened and may never happen. Sadly she missed a main point that once again shows that either the media don't understand technology or wilfully ignore it for the sake of sensationalism. To understand what's going on I'll imagine writing some similar app; there are multiple ways of doing it but this should be a simple step-by-step using terminology anyone capable of reading this online should be familiar with.

Step 1: I write an app that is in reality a cut-down browser. This browser only allows visits to my site and has no address bar.
Step 2: When a user downloads my app it creates an account on linked to their mobile number.
Step 3: When a user uses my app to send a photo stores that photo and creates a unique link to it.
Step 4: checks its records for the mobile number you want to send the photo to and notes on that person's account that a photo has been sent to them
Step 5: The recipient's copy of my app reads that a photo has been sent to them and alerts the user.
Step 6: The app directs the recipient to the photo; displays it for the stipulated length of time and then closes.
Step 7: then deletes the photo and the link.

The important bit of that process is Step 5 the recipient needs a copy of the same app in order to view the photo sent to them. I can't send a photo to any other message-reading app and have it self-delete. Both people need to purposefully download an app that will allow them to send and receive self-deleting images.

In other words they're both culpable.This isn't some 'evil' app that means people can sex-bomb any mobile with photos and have the evidence delete itself. But if you listen to the media that's what they're saying. Yeesh!