The Latest iPhone Update Might Have Restored Your Old, Embarrassing Photos

The Latest iPhone Update Might Have Restored Your Old, Embarrassing Photos

iOS 17.5 is officially out, bringing the latest security updates to all applicable iPhones. Alongside fixing some major security flaws that Apple needed to address, the update also had an unintended effect: It’s bringing back deleted photos.

This iOS 17.5 bug has caused quite an uproar in the Apple community, with some raising concerns over Apple’s privacy claims, and wondering if the company’s software keeps old photos even after you’ve deleted them.

The big concern here is the possibility for not safe for work photos to unexpectedly rear their heads again: One Reddit user says that nudes (and some less compromising photos) that were deleted “years ago” reappeared in their recent images after updating their phone. You don’t even need to be connected to iCloud, according to another Reddit user experiencing the issue. Locally stored photos are supposedly coming back, too.

Unfortunately, there isn’t exactly a clear reason for what is happening here. Given that many of the photos are from years ago, it isn’t likely to be an issue with the recently deleted settings on the iPhone, which only keeps photos for 30 days after deletion, in case you accidentally delete a photo and need to restore it.

It’s possible that these reports could all come down to an indexing issue, some kind of corruption in the photo library, or, in the case of photos backed up online, a syncing issue between iCloud and local devices. Related to the latter point, it’s possible that Apple made a mistake while trying to fix a syncing issue reported by users in a previous iOS 17 update.

The explanation is likely innocent, though: Deleted files are never truly gone from a device until overwritten, so it’s possible the bug is simply resurfacing them instead of keeping them available to be rewritten. That might also explain a similar bug another user experienced where old voicemails came back.

For the moment, there isn’t much you can do to avoid the bug if you already updated to iOS 17.5. However, holding off on the update isn’t recommended, as it does address some security flaws that iPhone users will want to resolve as soon as possible. It’s arguably more important to protect yourself from a Find My bug that could let a malicious app track your current location, than it is to prevent iOS from resurfacing your old deleted photos—however embarrassing that may be.

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