Avast Software recently bought 20 iPhones and Android phones and wiped them by using their basic factory settings. Then, they looked at all the stuff still there. This included family photos, nude selfies (male and female), texts, emails and contacts. Within these, they were able to discover a ton of information about each individual user, including GPS coordinates of places they’d been, and personal history like a loan document and a completed sexual harassment course.

Venture Beat explained how this is possible:

…when you delete a file, it’s not really deleted. Rather the operating system deletes pointers that correspond to the file and marks the space that the file occupies as available so that it can eventually be overwritten. But until it’s overwritten, the file can still be restored. This is true for your cellphone and PC.

So essentially, nothing is truly deleted until there’s something else in its place. A scary thought when you consider all the old computers an phones you’ve carelessly gotten rid of.

There are ways to protect yourself, but it’s not as easy as some would like you to think. Even on the phones of people with anti-virus software installed, it was easy for Avast to find highly personal data. Only 8% of American phone users have software on their phone that even allows the possibility of erasing everything. Avast proudly advertises their place in this group, thus their motivation for demonstrating to us our profound lack of privacy. (Photo: @ario)