What your mobile provider and mobile phone manufacturer did not tell you and what you must know to safeguard your data communications and privacy.
I woke up this morning at 6am full of energy and decided to check my Android phone for emails, text messages or Bible readings from DailyBible app. To my dismay, I received multiple text messages from friends who said they couldn’t sleep because they got messages from someone on my “group list” who was trying to reach me.
Okay, this was strange. Immediately I put my spiritual cap on and said, “this is an enemy attack” and vowed to put that devil in its place. Then I remembered that God has given us sanctified common sense and some things should be taken care of immediately. So I replied one of the text messages stating that it must have been a hoax or scam. My friend then confirmed that it wasn’t a scam but real.
So, here’s the dilemma – a not-so-good issue that mobile providers need to talk about and let users of their services know -a privacy awareness issue:
Apparently, I used my Samsung Android to send out a text message sometime last year to maybe 8 to 10 of my friends about a teleseminar that I was doing and invited them to attend. I am thinking 10 because my mobile carrier will not allow you to send text to more than 10 people at a time. It wasn’t a group text per se because I didn’t have a list. All I did was select a few precious names from my phone contact list, added them to my text message and voila! The message was sent.
It turned out that one person who was among the recipients sent me an unrelated text message (supposedly private) by hitting “REPLY” but everyone (all the people who I previously sent the teleseminar invitation) got the message and subsequent texts she sent.
People were irate because it was in the wee hours of the morning. I then did a quick online research and found out that I’m not alone and it happened to others too.
So, here’s the mobile texting privacy issue you need to be aware of:
When you add up to 10 names to your text message or your text message is long (exceeds a certain amount of characters), it says something like “converting to multimedia message.” Your SMS (short messaging service) is then converted to MMS (multimedia messaging service). You will then see a PLAY symbol.
Apparently, Samsung Android (Android 4.3) is preset with a default and enabled Group Messaging Option even though the box remains unchecked. Apparently, it is specific to Samsung devices. To change this, go to your home screen, tap on MESSAGING, click settings, go to MMS settings, click Creation Mode and take it from there.
Weird and sad, I know! Why can’t theses mobile carriers and mobile phone manufacturers just say this upfront? A privacy notice like this below would help:
Warning! The message you are about to send has been converted to Group Messaging and replies to this message can be viewed by everyone in the group.
In my opinion, this is the reason for the mess up. I don’t have the tech data yet to figure out whether this only applies to Samsung Android devices but I will get to the root of it. If you have experienced something similar with another mobile device, please let us know. Unless I have been living in a cave, this doesn’t create any reasonable expectation of privacy.
Question: Have you ever encountered this type of texting privacy problem? When you receive text messages perhaps sent to a group, do you see other people’s phone numbers? Let’s hear it.
Image courtesy of flickr
Belinda Enoma is a Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Consultant, Corporate Trainer and Global Speaker with a unique blend of law and technology expertise. She is a digital entrepreneur, author, ordained pastor, global conference host and mentor to women who desire to impact their generation. For bookings, click here