With advances in mobile photography, we’re all taking more photos than ever before. A lot of those photos are meant to be shared, but you traditionally want to choose which photos are shared. Some owners of Samsung phones say their devices have started spontaneously sending their photos to a random contact. That sounds like a pretty serious problem. Not as serious as exploding phones, but almost.
Users claim the issue stems from Samsung Messages, which is the default SMS app on all of Samsung’s phones. Affected individuals say their phones have started sending messages to one of their contacts with their full photo gallery. This message doesn’t show up on their end, but the other person’s phone shows the message as if it was sent manually. One Samsung user also reports that T-Mobile’s logs showed the message sent from his phone.
That person was lucky that the photos were shared with his significant other rather than an acquaintance or business associate. The lack of any evidence on the affected phone may be the scariest part — this could be happening much more than we think because the recipient is someone the involuntary sender doesn’t speak to often.
Reports of the issue have appeared on Reddit and on Samsung’s official forums involving devices like the Note 8 and Galaxy S9. The cause and scale of the problem are all speculation at this point, but something appears to be happening. Samsung says it has teams investigating events.
Some users are pointing the finger at a buggy update for Samsung’s Messages app, which happens automatically via the Galaxy Apps store. That would be a severe bug to introduce in an update, though. This app is also at the heart of Samsung’s RCS messaging push, so that might have something to do with the phantom messages. RCS (Rich Communication Services) is the next phase of carrier messaging. RCS adds features that traditional SMS lacks like read receipts, more characters, seamless group chats, and more. RCS has just started rolling out on carriers like T-Mobile, and Samsung’s Messages app is one of the first to get support. Samsung even has its own RCS hub that carriers can use to serve up RCS messages. It’s possible the unauthorized messages are related.
If you’re using a Samsung phone and are concerned about this bug, a smart course of action would be to make sure your photos are backed up to a service like Google Photos or Dropbox. Then, delete the local copies. Your phone can’t share what it doesn’t have. You can also place any “sensitive” photos in the phone’s Secure Folder, which is encrypted and separate from the main OS.
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