Apple users report 'phantom' AirTag stalking alerts, likely because of a bug

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in General Discussion
Some Apple users are seeing what appear to be phantom AirTag anti-stalking alerts that are likely the result of a bug in the company's safety mechanisms, according to a new report.

AirTag
AirTag


The bug-related alerts have a few distinguishing characters from actual reports of stalking, including the fact that their pathway on a map appear erratic and non-sensible, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

"The maps on phantom AirTag alerts share a similar pattern: straight red lines radiating out from the user's location," the publication noted. "If an AirTag were in motion (perhaps flying?) along these paths, it would be crossing in the middle of city streets, passing through construction zones, even penetrating walls."

It isn't clear how widespread the bug is, but The Wall Street Journal points out that reports have surfaced on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and other platforms.

One person who received a phantom AirTag alert at his home said the notification was frightening, but added that the AirTag's movement on the map "looked super weird." He wasn't able to find any maliciously placed AirTags near his house.

When a 24-year-old nonprofit worker received a phantom AirTag alert on her iPhone, she searched her belongings and found none. When she attempted to get the AirTag to play a sound, the Find My app showed a notification saying "AirTag Not Reachable."

It's a similar situation to one faced by a family visiting Disney World earlier in May. While they received an AirTag anti-stalking alert, they weren't able to find any trackers on their persons or in their belongings.

An Apple spokesperson said the alerts may have resulted from an iPhone receiving Wi-Fi signals that temporarily confused its location services. Alternatively, the spokesperson added that AirTags owned by other nearby people in densely populated areas could result in false alarms -- and it doesn't get much denser than Disney World.

There are certainly real cases of AirTag-facilitated stalking, which is why Apple has deployed new mechanisms meant to bolster safety and security. The company is also working on other safeguards that will debut down the road.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    M68000M68000 Posts: 461member
    Does this mean anybody with an iPhone can get these alerts?  Or, only people who have bought into this tag product?   I don’t have them so don’t know but wondering.
  • Reply 2 of 6
    mrbofusmrbofus Posts: 38member
    “The bug-related alerts have a few distinguishing characters”

    Did you mean characteristics? Or is the message actually different?
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 3 of 6
    slow n easyslow n easy Posts: 170member
    M68000 said:
    Does this mean anybody with an iPhone can get these alerts?  Or, only people who have bought into this tag product?   I don’t have them so don’t know but wondering.
    Yes, anybody with an iPhone can get the alert. It is supposed to mean that someone placed the AirTag in your belongings in order to track your movements. So the alert is designed to let you know that an AirTag if following you that doesn’t belong to you.
    Alex1N
  • Reply 4 of 6
    I was getting notifications that my own AirPods Pro were following the other day, though I’m not sure that’s the same strange behavior being discussed here. 
  • Reply 5 of 6
    RockwellJacobsRockwellJacobs Posts: 6unconfirmed, member
    Still not one article in regards to the “AirTag Not Found” bug? And you continue to write this click bait? 
  • Reply 6 of 6
    I was getting notifications that my own AirPods Pro were following the other day, though I’m not sure that’s the same strange behavior being discussed here. 
    I had this as well. It was a bug in iOS and was fixed in an update. Or maybe it will be fixed in an update. I run the public beta and it has stopped but I'm not sure if that has been rolled out in a final update yet. 

    I also used to get a report that an AirTag was following me and when I pulled it up it was my own AirTag. That seems to have been addressed as well. 
    Alex1N
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