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Some Apple services like iMessage and the Calendar app are getting flooded with spam

June 21st, 2021 at 11:55 PM
iOS apps

I’m the kind of iOS user who tends to rant and rave when I see just a couple of errant spam messages appear in my iMessages app — especially when they’re a darker variant, which go beyond the missives that so many of us have gotten by now (like the ones announcing that you’ve won a non-existent Amazon raffle). No, I’m talking about attempted scams, adult-themed messages, and the like, which intrude in a massively annoying way when you’re trying to sort through messages from friends and loved ones. I only thought I had it bad, though, until a few weeks ago when I was chatting with someone who works at Facebook, and he held up his phone to show me all of his iMessage spam. All of these, he showed me as he swiped through the list, should not be here.

This problem, by the way, is not limited to iMessages. Users of other iOS apps, like the Calendar app, have been reporting similar frustrations — such as the users in this Reddit thread, complaining of scammy Calendar spam.

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Apple, to its credit, said it was “actively working to address this issue” … back in 2016. This is still apparently enough of an issue for many people, because Apple Support posted a YouTube video earlier this month about how to remove calendar spam on your iPhone (but doesn’t explain what steps you can take to prevent yourself from receiving the spam in the first place). Nevertheless, that video has garnered almost 100,000 views as of the time of this writing.

One of the most nettlesome aspects of spam like all of this is the fact that interacting with it — including by communicating with the sender to “stop” — lets the spammer know that a real, live human is on the other end, and that this is a legitimate iMessage or Calendar destination. Meaning, the harassment may likely continue.

As far as iMessage, this problem has actually helped drive me away from the app into a messaging alternative (I know, I know, there are steps you can take, and settings you can adjust, to clamp down on any iMessage spam — but I’ve done that. And I shouldn’t have to.) I’ve become a heavy Facebook Messenger user, one of the reasons being that I get zero spam there. Absolutely zero.

As a journalist, I also love the ability to reach sources directly via something like Facebook’s messaging app, whereas sending an email instead would in all likelihood have gone unanswered for many of them. Since pretty much everyone and everything in existence either has a Facebook profile or Facebook page at this point, it’s also useful to be able to reach anyone whose phone number you don’t currently have, meaning you can’t contact them through iMessage.

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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.




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