Huawei’s disappearing Twitter photos problem is less dramatic than you think

JC Torres - Jan 23, 2019, 9:38pm CST
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Huawei’s disappearing Twitter photos problem is less dramatic than you think

Huawei seems to be the favorite target of conspiracy theories in the tech industry these days. Especially when you consider recent news about arrested executives and government bans against Huawei happening not just in the US but worldwide as well. So when something out of the ordinary happens on users’ Huawei and Honor phones, like, say, vanishing photos downloaded from Twitter, the Interwebs unsurprisingly goes crazy over what almost seems like a vendor’s unauthorized backdoor access to phones.

It’s really not that hard to think something is amiss. Some users in China have reported getting notifications on their Huawei or Honor phones that Twitter has deleted a photo from their Gallery. Checking in the app as well as the file manager’s trash feature confirms that dreaded reality. Fortunately, the photos that do get deleted aren’t photos taken by the Camera app but rather images downloaded from the Twitter app.

Of course, Reddit exploded in a discussion of potential violations of users’ security and privacy and confirmations of the US government’s attitude against Huawei. On the surface, it did seem like Huawei was remotely deleting users’ photos without their consent, considering that it was only happening on Huawei’s Chinese phones.

The company, however, quickly reached out to clarify matters. It isn’t a case of backdoor access but a bug in Twitter’s app. What happens, according to the company, is that a certain version of Twitter will move a downloaded photo and then create a folder with the same name as the image. This movement triggers Huawei’s image protection alert, notifying users of the activity. The photos, however, are safely inside a different folder accessible via the file manager.

The explanation might make sense but it remains a mystery why it’s only affecting China-specific models of Huawei’s and Honor’s phones. And, of course, that’s probably not going to stop some from continuing to suspect and accuse the company of misdeeds. But, at least for now, users can rest easy knowing their Twitter photos are safe and intact.


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