Apple Safety Check; How It Works

Cell phones have become a significant part of our lives. We use them to connect with people through calls, texts, and video messages. They also let us access the larger world through social media and the internet. Though cell phones can be a wonderful tool to connect us with others, they can also be used by an abusive partner. Partners could monitor whom you are talking to, where you are, or what you’ve searched online. Thankfully, Apple added a new feature called Safety Check to help survivors feel safe and secure using their iPhone. This is how the Apple Safety Check on iPhone keeps survivors safe.

What is Safety Check?

Safety Check is a recent feature on Apple iPhones running iOS 16 or later. It allows users to quickly see what information on their phone is being shared and who they are sharing it with. The information being shared could include sharing locations, messages showing up on multiple devices (like laptops or tablets), or other data gathered from apps.

Safety Check lets you see what information you share and helps you reset permissions for your personal safety.

How can Safety Check help survivors?

In 2022, The Hotline conducted a survey to get more information on survivors’ experiences with online harassment abuse.

Nearly 1,000 respondents reported experiencing at least one type of online abuse or harassment, commonly referred to as digital abuse

Digital abuse is the use of technology and the internet to harass, stalk, intimidate, or control a partner. This can include sending emotionally abusive or threatening messages, cyberstalking, and threatening or posting intimate or sexual pictures without permission. It also includes a partner who is abusive using your iPhone to track your location or monitoring your communications without your knowledge.

Safety Check is a great tool because it allows survivors to see what information they are sharing and with whom they are sharing it. Using this tool, survivors can see if their partner has changed any permissions on their iPhone, changed location settings, or if any apps have been downloaded that they aren’t aware of. Using the Safety Check can be a useful part of safety planning, especially if you are concerned that your partner is using your iPhone to track or monitor you.

How does Apple Safety Check Work? 
  1. Go to Settings on your iPhone
  2. Go to Privacy & Security
  3. Scroll down to the “Safety Check” option
  4. You will have two options:
    1. Emergency Reset: This will immediately stop all types of sharing. It also lets you review and reset settings on your Apple ID.
    2. Manage Sharing & Access: This allows you to manage sharing and access for specific people and apps. You can also review your account security in this section.

      Choose the option you want and follow the instructions on-screen. If needed, you can tap “Quick Exit” to quickly exit the Safety Check.

What to be aware of when using Safety Check?
  1. Any changes made in Safety Check may be noticed by the person whose access has changed if they no longer receive or can access information from the survivor’s devices. If you are using Safety Check as part of your safety plan, be sure to use the feature as close as possible to when you leave. This will give the partner who is abusive less time to notice any changes.
  2. Safety Check is only available on iPhones running on iOS16 or higher.
  3. The device must be connected to a personal Apple ID.  You can still change your sharing settings, access permissions, and other safety measures in your iPhone settings even if you do not have access to Safety Check.
  4. If your iPhone is a managed device, Safety Check will still work but some functionality may not be available.

Get help.

If you are worried that your partner may be using your device to monitor or track you, please reach out. Our advocates are here 24/7 to answer any questions you may have and help you safety plan as needed. You are not alone.