What happens when you find something something on a loved one’s phone that shouldn’t be there? What if that’s something that concerns you? We’re tackling the mysterious case of “why is that on your phone” in this week’s <a Ask Lifehacker tech support column.
Without further ado, Lifehacker reader Sarah writes:
“In the history on my fiancé’s phone shows some disturbing sites, he claims they must be pop ups. That he wouldn’t have searched these. He also said it could be possible he clicked on a picture and it pulled something up he didn’t search himself, but it was there in history - the same site like 4 times in a row. What do you think?”
You didn’t really clarify what you meant by “disturbing,” which I’m going to assume is some simple porn. If, however, I’m totally softballing this, and what you found is a lot worse—something super-illegal, like child pornography—then I think you need to take a harsher stance on this one and possibly even involve the authorities, depending on what we’re talking about here. That kind of stuff doesn’t just “pop up” when you’re browsing the web.
Assuming this is a normal “why is there porn on your phone” conversation, it’s plausible that your husband was browsing the web, doing whatever, and a porn site pop-up appeared on whatever site he was looking at. What’s more likely is that he could have been tapping around a site and accidentally pulled up the offending website himself. It happens. What’s probably telling, in this case, is whether the site just appears in the history as-is—indicating it just happened to appear for no rhyme or reason—or whether it’s surrounded by a bunch of other sites of similar ilk, or Google searches for whatever thing was on said site (thus solving the mystery).
Now, if you’re seeing the exact same site four times in a row across multiple timeframes, and there’s nothing in the search history that provides these sites with a common link—i.e., the same website isn’t sending him the same pop-up—the plot thickens. I’m not going to rule one way or the other, since I can’t see the evidence myself, but I would wager that this is less of an “accident”. That’s not saying it isn’t, but the whole situation might require a bit more thought.
As I alluded to earlier, if it’s just this one site that makes a frequent appearance in the history—and it’s only, say, the home page, and your fiancé isn’t digging deeper into whatever the site offers—I might give a pass on this one. Whatever the reason, it seems innocent enough; who loads the first page of a naughty website, after all, and calls it a day?
Conversely, if your partner is browsing a lot of pages on the same domain around the same time, well, you have your answer right there.
What would I do in this case? Don’t sweat it. This hardly sounds like your partner is some kind of sexual addict or whatnot. Unless he was browsing for “how to make bombs,” “how to cut up a corpse,” or lots and lots of porn—constant porn, really, or even some kind of incredibly graphic porn that’s beyond the “norm,” as it were—I’d give him a pass on this one.
This decision is entirely yours to make, and only you know the true details of what’s going on, but my gut feeling is to just let it ride if these websites aren’t presenting (or are indicative of) a clearer problem. If there is a more substantive issue, then by all means, have that conversation. Nobody would fault you for that!