Down like ninepins. Ruin in a smartphone


The scourge of the smartphone has brought wrack and ruin to many in the skittle alley of life.

For  the second year running, Miss Zimbabwe has been sacked after earlier naked photos went out on the net. What has happened in both cases, it seems, is that one-time partners felt cuckolded by the more glamorous circles that the winners were now moving in.

Careless indiscretions of top models and actresses the world over haven’t been spared either. The worst of it is known as ‘revenge porn,’ usually photos posted by vindictive ex-lovers from self-focusing smartphones that don’t need much skill to take ‘selfies’ and suchlike.

Our tabloids are full of stories of how common it has become in Zimbabwe and how destructive and dangerous it can be. H-Metro has endless reports of marriage break-ups and worse – violent assaults, grievous injury and even death – after ‘sextexts’  or intimate photos involving someone who shouldn’t be there show up on Whatsapp.

Most phones have fairly simple lock codes to observe being used and remember for a later moment to look inside. Some have a fingerprint impression to unlock them. This is circumvented if the owner is fast asleep, intoxicated or otherwise inert and the fingerprint is touched to the screen. Not long ago, H-Metro reported a wife pouring sizzling cooking oil into the lap of the husband who refused to reveal his lock code to her. These are the very real perils of the smartphone, say the tabloids, along with those playful and willing exchanges that become malignant when relationships break up.

imageIn any event, sensible advice is to try to avoid risqué texts and candid camera shots altogether.

(When the minders tried to force news photographers and cameramen to erase pictures of Mr Mugabe’s famous trip-up at Harare airport, most images had already been transmitted into the ‘cloud’ ahead of them going viral.)

Where needs must, the ‘first aid’ thing to do with an incriminating phone – your own or someone else’s – is to drop it straight into a bucket of water or the toilet bowl. But that doesn’t make its contents completely safe from malicious eyes. As every good hacker knows, the right tools in the right hands make physically spoilt or deleted material just a little harder to retrieve from the cloud, snooping devices and elsewhere.

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