In what appears to be an ill-conceived prank, a teenager on a United Airlines flight from San Francisco used Apple’s AirDrop to send “inappropriate photos” to other passengers, prompting staff to evacuate the plane.
As related by Christopher J. Beale, who claims to have been aboard the flight Thursday, an unidentified teenager I send images from an airsoft gun to nearby iPhones via AirDrop, reports NBC Bay Area affiliate.
Bound for Orlando, United Airlines Flight 2167 was preparing to leave the gate when passengers reported the incident, airport spokesman Doug Yakel said. Everyone on board was forced to disembark and go through a second screening process “as a precaution,” Yakel said.
The teenager also made threats, according to Beale’s account, such as relayed by Gizmodo.
It was determined that the photos were taken at an earlier date and not at the airport, and the teenager did not have the weapon on his person. The passengers re-boarded after officials conducted a safety inspection of the plane, and the teenager was banned from the flight. It is unclear if he faces further legal ramifications for his actions.
It is not clear how the teenager was identified. What Gizmodo Notes, iOS users can send images, videos, and other media anonymously via AirDrop simply by changing the name of their device in the system settings. It is theorized that the culprit either forgot this crucial step or was simply not worried about getting caught.
Recipients of AirDropped media are shown a preview of the image or video, which they can accept or reject. This mechanic has caused problems in the past, as pranksters or obnoxious characters can use the feature to present inappropriate content to victims.
Users can protect AirDrop and prevent reception of unwanted photos by limiting AirDrop’s discoverability to known contacts. First, open Control center swiping down from the upper right corner of the screen (iPhone X and later) or up from the bottom of the screen (iPhone 8 and earlier), then press and hold the key Bluetooth icon and touch the Airdrop icon. Please select Only contacts or Getting off.
The same AirDrop settings can be found at General> AirDrop in the Settings app.