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Hey, Guess What? Your Blackberry Might Be Telling All Your Contacts What Porn You Watch

Don't get caught "listening to pornhub.com"
 
 
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Members of the Crackberry community discovered an oversight in new Blackberry phones that may cause mobile-porn users to inadvertently broadcast their x-rated viewing habits to all their friends. When activated, Blackberry 10’s “Show What I’m Listening To” feature automatically shares with a user’s mobile contacts all content played in a phone’s built-in media player. The feature doesn’t discriminate between songs or videos—so everything from Taylor Swift singles to clips from PornHub.com gets publicized to the world (see: above image).

As social technology becomes increasingly popular and prevalent, complex questions about privacy and transparency arise. As Think Progress’ Andrea Peterson observes, Blackberry’s porn problem is indicative of a larger trend of tech companies introducing potentially intrusive social features without fully informing its customers:

Facebook’s controversial Beacon advertising system revealed user purchases to friends with only an opt out mechanism, in some cases ruining big events like  engagements. One of Google’s early forays into social media, Google Buzz, created  the wrong kind of buzz by auto-populating the network with users’ most used private gmail contacts without asking.

Blackberry’s feature is opt-in, meaning users must turn it on for it to start displaying media habits. The problem is people might switch on “Show What I’m Listening To” without knowing how it works in practice. After all, its name suggests it’s a music-sharing program. So, it’s not difficult to imagine someone’s shock when they see “listening to pornhub.com” sandwiched between Frank Ocean and Lady Gaga in a public feed.

To wary Blackberry users: You can avoid potential embarrassment by disabling this particular feature on your phone. Just enter your BBM settings, toggle off “Show What I’m Listening To,” and don’t forget to save.

Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.

 
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