How to turn off AirDrop so strangers can't randomly send you nude pics or memes

Key Points
  • Apple AirDrop is great for sending pictures, videos and more to other people or other Apple devices you own.
  • Young people are even using AirDrop to send memes to strangers around them.
  • But AirDrop also lets people send not-so-nice things, like nude pictures, to strangers.
  • Here's how to turn off AirDrop, or configure it to accept only messages from contacts, so you don't get those.
Senior man surprised at tablet.
simpson33 | iStock | Getty Images

Fast Company had a story Monday about a woman on a Southwest Airlines flight who was harassed with unwanted nude pictures, which were sent using Apple AirDrop to her iPhone on the flight.

AirDrop is a great way to quickly share lots of photos and videos with people, or even other Apple products you own, but, as The Atlantic pointed out recently, it's also being used more frequently by young people to send random memes to strangers within a 30-foot radius around them.

Notice the thumbnail. Here, I've included a picture of my dog, but it could be anything.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

It's anonymous, and you'll still see a small thumbnail of what someone is trying to send you, even if you ultimately reject the request.

You can turn off AirDrop, or configure it differently, so that random people can't send you nudes or memes. Of course, if you like the fun memes, then you can still leave it on.

Here's how to turn off AirDrop, or configure it so you only get drops from people you know

AirDrop can be configured in the settings menu.
Todd Haselton | CNBC
  • Open settings on your iPhone.
  • Choose "General."
  • Tap "AirDrop."
  • Change the setting from "Everyone" to "Contacts Only" or "Receiving off."

You can also do this to turn off AirDrop:

You can use Control Center to turn off AirDrop.
Todd Haselton | CNBC
  • Pull down the control panel shade on an iPhone X, iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max (or up on the iPhone 8 or older)
  • Press and hold the box with the Wi-Fi and cellular networks in it.
  • Press and hold the AirDrop option.
  • Choose "Receiving off" or "Contacts Only."

Both of those settings will prevent strangers from sending you AirDrop messages. You won't appear in their list of people to share to when they try to send a message, whether it's a meme or a nude photo. But, if this is the sort of thing you're into, then you can just leave it on.

In iOS 13, you won't see a thumbnail of what stranger might try to AirDrop you.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

All of this changes in Apple's new iOS 13 update which will roll out this fall. As I found in the beta software, pictured above, the new notification appears to remove the thumbnail from when someone tries to send you an AirDrop. This could change before Apple releases the final software, however.

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