Apple has made significant progress in improving the anti-stalking and privacy aspects of its AirTag item trackers.
This is despite the fact that AirTag started with a more advanced set of anti-tracking measures than comparable devices on the market.
A recent Wall Street Journal story delves into a phenomenon known as “phantom AirTag notifications,” which “send iPhone users on wild goose hunts.”
AirTag ‘phantom’ privacy alerts
When an unfamiliar AirTag is discovered near you, iOS will automatically give you an alert.
This informs you of the likelihood that someone is following your whereabouts and enables you to (try to) find the AirTag and, if required, contact law enforcement authorities.
However, according to today’s article, “in recent weeks, some iPhone users have been getting warnings, sometimes in the middle of the night, for AirTags that may not be on their route at all.“
In these cases, the afflicted user gets a notification from the Find My app that says “AirTag identified near you,” along with a map depicting the item tracker’s alleged position and movement.
According to the report:
The maps on phantom AirTag alerts share a similar pattern: straight red lines radiating out from the user’s location. If an AirTag were in motion (perhaps flying?) along these paths, it would be crossing in the middle of city streets, passing through construction zones, even penetrating walls.
It’s unknown how prevalent this problem is, and if it’s a new problem or has been since AirTag’s inception.
An Apple spokesperson did confirm that the company is aware of the problem:
An Apple spokesman said that such alerts could have resulted from an iPhone receiving area Wi-Fi signals that temporarily confused its location services. A potential fix would be to go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services, and toggle the switch off and on while Wi-Fi is enabled on the iPhone. He also said that in more densely populated areas, AirTags owned by others nearby could inadvertently trigger unwanted alerts.