Debunked: Does your iPhone really take photos of your face every five seconds?

A viral TikTok seems to suggest so


There’s a theory doing the rounds on TikTok currently that suggests your iPhone takes photos of you every five seconds – and it has gained quite some traction in recent weeks. In one viral video, someone holds their iPhone normally with an infrared camera trained on them, and you can clearly see that every few seconds there is a flash of light emitted from the front of the phone. Yeah, it’s a little creepy, yeah, I want to know what it is.

This has predictably got some people speculating over whether Apple is harvesting our faces for their super evil plan to take over the world, but is there actually any truth to theories that your iPhone is photographing your face? Today we’re going to debunk what exactly the random flashes your iPhone emits are.

@briethomasonTechnology is WILDDDD. ##ghostbusters ##technology ##infared ##faceid♬ original sound – Brie Thomason

Why does my iPhone flash under infrared light?

Items that use infrared technology, such as TV remotes and phones, work by firing out flashes of light that aren’t visible to the human eye, and the above video captures this very technology by making this light visible.

So, is your iPhone taking photos of you? No.

By flashing infrared light at your face, the iPhone is performing its Attention Aware function, which basically just checks that you’re engaged with whatever is on the screen so it can act accordingly. This can be by keeping the screen from dimming if you’re not looking, or locking it altogether if it can sense that you’re not engaged for a certain time period.

Therefore, this is not the iPhone “taking pictures” and permanently recording your face, but rather its attempt to sense if you’ve nodded off while reading something. It’s worth noting that Face ID also uses this technology, but similarly doesn’t permanently record any of the physical data that it gathers.

So… no, your iPhone isn’t taking pictures of your face, but it’s certainly reading it. Whilst this shouldn’t come as a shock to you, if it does then you should probably get rid of most of the modern technology in your house – I always had my suspicions about Alexa anyway.

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