Woman Discovers She’s Being Tracked On Her Phone By Her ‘Friend’, Cuts All Ties And Asks The Internet For Help
No matter how well you know a person, you can never be sure about what’s going on in their head. The ulterior motives they might have.
Last week, Reddit user Careful_Pickle555 submitted a story to the ‘Am I the [Jerk]?‘ community, telling its 4.2 million members about the time her friend started secretly monitoring her phone activity.
When the woman finally found out what was happening, the guy tried to laugh it off, saying it was but an innocent prank.
However, their complete lack of remorse made Careful Pickle even more cautious. Why was he spying on her? What did he see? Would he do something like this again?
Eventually, the woman cut all ties with her now-ex-friend. But as much as she feels this was the best choice she could’ve made regarding the situation, others think she’s overreacting. So, Careful Pickle asked the internet to help her make sense of the whole ordeal.
This woman’s friend started sending her weird and creepy texts, appearing to know more details about her life than he should
Image credits: Anh Nguyen (not the actual photo)
Turns out, he was spying on her phone
Image credits: shutter_speed (not the actual photo)
While Careful Pickle still hasn’t figured out how the guy kept an eye on her, stalkerware is easy to find. And use.
It’s a toxic class of software specifically designed for tracking a phone while covertly running in the background.
Stalkerware’s purpose is to record everything about the device, whether that’s emails and texts, web browsing, location, calls, you name it.
Stalkerware is widely available on Google’s Play Store and to a lesser degree on Apple’s App Store, often with innocuous names like MobileTool, Agent, and Battery Saver. In fact, these apps have become such a common tool for digital domestic abuse that Apple and Google have started acknowledging that they’re are an issue.
From September 2020 to May 2021, the number of devices infected with stalkerware jumped 63 percent, according to a study by internet security firm Norton Labs.
“[Stalkerware] is extremely invasive, it’s a very big deal and it’s linked to some of the worst abuse I’ve seen in intimate partner abuse,” Eva Galperin, a cybersecurity director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the digital rights organization, told The New York Times.
What makes it so problematic is the fact that it operates in a gray area. There are legitimate uses for surveillance apps, like parental control software that monitors children online to protect them from predators. But this technology becomes stalkerware when it’s stealthily installed on someone else’s phone to spy on them without consent.
The scary part is that the woman doesn’t exactly know how he did it; she can only guess
No wonder his stunt ruined the friendship the guy had with Careful Pickle. As Christian L. Hart, Ph.D., who is a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Psychological Science program at Texas Woman’s University, points out, trust is particularly fragile.
“It is a precious commodity that can take years to cultivate but can be squandered in an instant,” Hart explains. “When someone violates our trust, usually through dishonesty, neglect, or disloyalty, we … feel upset, hurt, angry, sad, and foolish. We come to distrust that person because they violated our faith and confidence in them.”
The professor says that when people violate our trust, we usually withdraw from them if we can. “We don’t risk placing ourselves in a vulnerable position with them again. We also become vigilant, looking for any evidence that they might undermine us or let us down again.”
So I think there’s nothing wrong with Careful Pickle’s reaction. Moreover, judging by his actions, the guy isn’t willing or capable of salvaging whatever’s left of their friendship.
“[If we want to regain trust,] not only do we need to admit where we have fallen short, but we also must also understand and accept where the other person believes we have failed them,” Hart highlights. “Apologies, remorse, and contrition are necessities when rebuilding trust, but they may not be enough. We may also need to accept punishments and penance for our failings.”