What is Sensitive Content Warning in iOS 17 and How Does It Work?

There is no dearth of evil minds on the Internet that are hell-bent on spewing venom, polluting minds, and brainwashing your thoughts. If you fail to safeguard yourself from the nefarious circulation of sensitive content, it won’t take long before you might fall prey to the trap of the wrongdoers. While these words might sound rather harsh, at times, it’s better to face reality than be fooled by the short-lived fragrance of falsehood! Keeping this very sensitivity in mind, Apple has introduced “Sensitive Content Warning” security feature that adds an extra layer of protection from your exposure to unsolicited obscene content. Read on to understand in-depth what is sensitive content warning in iOS 17 and how does it work.

Enable and Use Sensitive Content Warning in iOS 17 on iPhone

Before going any further, let’s thoroughly discuss this all-new security feature and get a good hang of all the aspects!

What is the Sensitive Content Warning in iOS 17 and How Does It Work?

As the name itself makes it crystal clear, “Sensitive Content Warning” is aimed at safeguarding you from nude photos and videos. The moment your iPhone detects an obscene image, the device automatically blurs it out and warns you. Moreover, your iPhone also offers up the needed guidance so that you can take the right decision. 

For those uninitiated, “Sensitive Content Warning” is the expansion of the Communication Safety feature which debuted last year. It helps protect kids from explicit content when sending and receiving content via Messages app, FaceTime Message, AirDrop, Contact Posters, and Photo picker. Moreover, in addition to the still images, it has covered video content as well.

Talking about the Sensitive Content Warning, it’s designed to shield adults from explicit content. Through expert guidance, it attempts to help them make a safe choice.

What Type Of Content Can Get a Sensitive Content Warning?

Any photo or video that promotes, shows, or depicts nudity will be flagged as “Sensitive Content” including –

  • Screenshots with adult content
  • Pornographic photos and videos
  • Memes with adult content

Which Apps Support Sensitive Content Warning?

For the time being, Sensitive Content Warning is limited to Apple apps and services. However, Apple has opened it for third-party apps as well. So, we expect file-sharing and social networking apps to make use of this feature.

  • AirDrop
  • Apple Messages
  • FaceTime Messages
  • Contact Posters in the Phone app
  • Third-party apps

How Does Sensitive Content Warning Work?

As soon as your iPhone finds any malicious photo/video, it uses on-device image/video processing technology to verify the content. Upon thorough verification, if the content is flagged to be sensitive, your device immediately blurs it out. And when you attempt to open the content, a warning shows up on the screen.

The “Sensitive Content Warning” offers you three options so that you can choose the right option.

  • Not Now: Choose it if you don’t want to open the content.
  • Ways To Get Help: Upon tapping this option, you will be directed to the resources page where you can get much-needed help and take a safer decision subsequently.
  • I’m Sure: Select it if you wish to view the content by avoiding the warning.  

What About the Privacy of the Photos/Videos and Do Apple Have Access to Them? 

Now comes the biggest question! What’s the privacy of the photos and whether or not Apple has access to them? Well, Apple makes use of on-device image/video processing technology to detect obscene content. The company clearly states that it doesn’t access your media or nor does it store it anywhere. Therefore, you should not worry about your privacy being exposed. 

How to Enable Sensitive Content Warning in iOS 17

  • First off, open the Settings icon on your iPhone.
  • Now, scroll down and choose Privacy & Security.
Choose Privacy and security
  • Next, tap on Sensitive Content Warning.
  • Next up, turn on the toggle for Sensitive Content Warning
Enable and use Sensitive content warning on iPhone

Manage Apps That Support Sensitive Content Warning on iPhone

Depending on your needs, you can manage apps that support Sensitive Content Warnings.

  • Head over to the Settings app on your -> Privacy & Security -> Sensitive Content Warning.
  • Under the App & Service Access section, you should see a list of all apps that support this security feature.
  • Now, you can turn on/off the toggle next to a specific app.

Help Apple Improve Sensitive Content Warning on Your iPhone

As a user, you can play a big part in improving the “Sensitive Content Warning” feature by sharing your analytics and usage data. If the privacy of your personal information scares you, note that Apple aggregates analytics and data in a form that is not identifiable. Furthermore, none of your media and messages are shared with Apple.

  • Navigate to the Settings app -> Privacy & Security -> Sensitive Content Warning -> turn on the toggle for Improve Sensitive Content Warning.

How to Deal With the Content That Has Been Flagged As Sensitive

If any photo or video has been found to be sensitive, you will get two main options to take prompt action.

  • Show: Tapping on the Show button will allow you to view the content.
  • Warning icon: Tapping on the Warning icon will reveal two options.
    • Ways To Get Help: Selecting this option will take you to the Apple Support page where you will get a number of resources that will help you take the right call.
    • Block Contact: It will let you block the contact.

Suggestions to Make “Sensitive Content Warning” More Effective

As someone who is a huge advocate of privacy and security features, I would like to offer up my two cents to make “Sensitive Content Warning” a bit more effective.

1. Make Authentication Via Face ID/Touch ID Mandatory for Viewing Sensitive Content

If the content has been found to be malicious, why not put it under the shield of Face ID/Touch ID? The reason why I want the obscene content to be protected with Face ID is to prevent any family member from bumping into it. Yeah, there is no point in red-lining the content if it can be easily viewed by anyone.

2. Why Not Automatically Dump All the Sensitive Content in a Separate Folder and Trash It Up After the Set Time?

It would be better if iOS automatically dumps all the content that has been deemed to be explicit in a separate folder and offer the flexibility to a user to clean up the trash after a set time. This way a user might not be tempted to view the malicious content.

On the other hand, if you are the guardian who has handed over the device to a kid, you would like to have the desired control over the “Sensitive Content” folder so that your child can stay away from the explicit content.

3. Offer a Quick and Permanent Way to Get Rid of the Sensitive Content

While this one might sound to be too basic, it’s something that most would want to have. When you delete a photo/video on your iPhone, it first gets stored inside the “Recently Deleted” folder and stays there for up to 30 days. Though the “Recently Deleted” folder is pretty handy for recovering accidentally deleted photos, at times, it can cause headaches, if you forget to clean up this folder.

Read more: How to Use Apple Check In in Messages App in iOS 17

Posted by
Rajesh Mishra

Co-founder/Editor-in-Chief: Rajesh Mishra (Your beloved “R.K” 360 Reader Voice) is a Shakespearean poet at heart who turned a tech nerd while having a secret rendezvous with iPhone 4. When that rendezvous turned obsession, he let go of his hard-core political journalism in favour of the lifelong love-affair with technology. In a career spanning one and a half decades, Mr. Mishra has crafted over 8K articles and around 2K YouTube videos. He is probably the only journalist alive with this unique achievement. When he is not at his desk, you may find him either engrossed in a Deathmatch or chasing Wordsworth!

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