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A viral social media post that alleges Apple is developing a paired wedding ring set that knows where you are, when you've taken it off, and automatically alerts your partner that you're being unfaithful is a 15-year-old joke that's being dangerously believed.
There is a real debate about privacy over Apple's AirTags, and whether they are the source of problems or have just shone a spotlight on the issue. But there are people who are capitalizing on the question by scaremongering without understanding the technology.
And now there's also this.
It's so close to existing technology, that it feels possible. It presses enough buttons for enough people concerned with privacy, that it's being believed.
But it's complete nonsense.
More than a harmless gag, though, it is being believed and it's upsetting people. Perhaps they're not the most clued-in about technology, perhaps many of them are the kind to not read past a headline.
Abusers can use a wide array of technologies to stalk spouses and other people, that are less obvious than the AirTag. Right now, the truth over abusers potentially tracking people with AirTags is that they can't, without that person knowing.
Someone in an abusive relationship could very well have an abuser's AirTag planted on them, or in their car. But that AirTag will alert somebody nearby with an iPhone that an AirTag has been following them without the owner for a while. It will also start sounding an alarm on its own when it has been away from its owner for more than a certain time.
This is also probably why there's no Family Sharing on AirTags. If there were, it would be easy to plant one on somebody in the family group, without any of the alarms going off.
So there are genuine worries about abuse, and Apple has done a lot to mitigate the concerns. But passing this joke off as fact is just scaring vulnerable people.
Old joke, new worries
Some folks are pointing to a parody post from 2016 being the origin of the post. But, that's not nearly as old as it is.
The gag originally started as just another concept render. In 2007, Yanko Design published a description, with the same image used in the current tweet, as if it were a real product. If you're familiar with Apple product, you know that the plastic and design is reminiscent of even earlier than 2007, with it mostly resembling the company's blue and white or Bondi days.
It's not as if this is like when China's People's Daily Online believed The Onion report claiming Kim Jong-un was "Sexiest Man Alive."
But Yanko Design's description did praise the battery life of the "iRing." An Apple product with two-day battery life in 2007.
Now you know it was satire.