Some of our member services (specialist domestic and family violence services) have asked us about the new edit and unsending features that were announced at Apple’s WWDC event on 6 June 2022, relating to iMessaging on Apple devices. Specifically, the ability to edit within 15 minutes and unsend messages within 2 minutes, as well as retrieving messages you have deleted within the last 30 to 40 days.
WESNET members and other domestic and family violence (DFV) services quickly recognised how such features could be misused by people choosing to misuse technology to abuse, but the news here is not as worrisome as it might appear at first glance.
Sending harassing, abusive, controlling, and/or threatening messages is probably the most common form of tech abuse we currently see in Australia. Findings of our 2020 National Survey of Technology and Domestic Violence in Australia showed that a whopping 61% of frontline workers reported seeing text messaging as the type of technology most commonly used by perpetrators to abuse – with a further 36.5% reporting they saw it often.
So, one could argue that tools that enable an abuser to edit or unsend a toxic message might interfere with a survivor’s capacity to document what’s going on.