Apple censorship code for China crashed iPhone apps


Former NSA hacker Patrick Wardle found that, when iPhone users either sent or received a message containing the word Taiwan or a Taiwanese flag emoji, the app they were using would crash.

He was initially skeptical, but was able to verify the claim and - by a somewhat tortuous process - work out what was causing it. This week, a security researcher noted how an iPhone-crashing bug occurred whenever some users used the Taiwanese flag emoji in iOS 11.3. According to Wardle, this bug was simple to reproduce on iPhones with country codes that included China or language settings including Chinese. "Chinese iPhones won't display this flag and will instead show a missing character tofu".

Meanwhile, China is one of the most important markets to Apple. Apple confirmed the fix in a security update Monday.

China considers Taiwan as a renegade provice, and does not recognise the sovereignty of the island nation. And given the relationship China has with Taiwan, the company might be appeasing the Chinese government with its flag blockade.

Apple's attempt to filter out text on its iPhones to appease the Chinese government would crash iOS - and now that bug, or feature, has been fixed.

This is not the first time U.S. company has made diplomatic changes to its devices on behalf of the Chinese government.

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So far, Apple hasn't commented on the reported vulnerability. Apple had already announced it would introducing such a feature, where it would cut-off access to the iPhone or iPad via the Lightning Port, if the device has not been unlocked for the last one hour.

The software had allowed iOS users in China to skirt around the country's strict internet firewalls.

Smiley faces, love hearts, thumbs up and other cartoon icons - rather than words - are the preferred method of communication by teenagers, who are considered the worst offenders regarding the decline in grammar and punctuation. But that's not the only feature that the company slipped into its latest incremental update.

The most common errors made by Brits are spelling mistakes (21 per cent), followed closely by apostrophe placement (16 per cent) and the misuse of a comma (16 per cent).

Furthermore, around three-quarters of adults rely on emoji to communicate, in addition to a dependence on predictive text and spell checking.