T-Mobile Surprise Porn Not An Isolated Incident

After we posted yesterday about a T-Mobile customer being greeted by pictures of topless women when he logged into his account to pay his bill, some of you asked, “What’s the problem?” Several readers’ stories answer that question. (Censored but not exactly tasteful pictures inside.) UPDATE: T-Mobile response inside.

It could get you in trouble at work:

I have a company supplied T-Mobile blackberry. Very unfortunately, when my phone wasn’t working, one of the women in our IT department went to my T-Mobile account page to correct the issue and found a very graphic and clear picture of a woman’s breasts. It created a terrible situation. No one – and I mean NO ONE – would believe me when I told them that I did not take the photo, nor did I put it there. I finally had to just drop it because the more I insisted that it wasn’t mine, the more guilty I sounded. The problem here is that I am the head of the Human Resources Department. I wish it had turned out to be a funny situation, but it didn’t take that path. For many other people, this could be humorous. In my situation, it wasn’t.

It could arouse spousal suspicion:

I stumbled across this article this morning, and the same thing happened to me!!!!!!! I was actually sitting at the computer with my wife, looking at my bill and trying to add ring-back tones, and all of a sudden, there was a picture of some girls butt with a caption reading “kiss this”. WTF!!?!?? She FLIPPED! To this day, she STILL talks about it! I can understand how she would accuse me of this, but I KNOW for a FACT this picture was never, ever on my phone!!!!!!! How does this happen?!?!

Or you could see something a little more graphic than what our original reader saw:

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am contacting you regarding the highly offensive pictures that have appeared on myTMobile home page. Please see the attached screenshots from last night. As of now, those photos still appear on my homepage whenever I access my account.

I have attempted to resolve this matter via the proper channels, ending in a conversation with TMobile tier-2 technical support. The answers I have received so far are unsatisfactory, and to be frank, somewhat condescending.

I was first told that I had somehow unknowingly uploaded these photos myself, or that I had left my phone unattended and a nefarious person of mystery had uploaded them via my handset without my knowledge. I use an unlocked handset that is not sold by TMobile, and thus do not have the software installed to access TMobile’s proprietary MobileLife service. Additionally, I have never used the MobileLife service, nor have I accepted the EULA for the service. Therefore, it is impossible that I have uploaded these offensive pictures, or that someone did so using my handset without my knowledge.

Following that, I was told the photos must have been taken by the TMobile customer who first had this number, and were somehow leftover in the MobileLife folder attached to this number. Again, that is impossible- I have had my number since 2004. It was a Nextel number, then SunCom, then became TMobile when SunCom was purchased. It has never been a TMobile number before now.

Next, the technical support rep told me that this had never happened before, and that the user who took these pictures must have simply transposed digits of intended recipient’s phone number. I pointed the rep to http://consumerist.com/5395978/reader-paid-my-t+mobile-bill-saw-some-boobs, indicating that this is not a rogue occurrence. She replied that, even after seeing this article, it still was not TMobile’s fault and I should just delete the pictures and move on.

These are the offending pictures (the originals were sent to us as uncensored screencaps of the browser window, but we’ve cropped them and added cats to obscure the naughty bits).






Another reader wrote in:

just got a new iPhone. Unlocked it and then checked my account online. I thought it was just some weird fluke thing because they couldn’t even put a picture up of my phone. Where did the pictures come from? I have no idea. I don’t even what “MobileLife” is. My images were both wrong and Oh My God!





The reader who sent this one in said, “I’ve never uploaded photos to tmobile’s website, this picture isn’t
from my phone.”

Additionally, after the Huffington Post picked up this story, they received a complaint and a different picture from one of their readers:

The question is, why is it only porn? Why aren’t people seeing pictures of strangers birthday parties and goofy faces and so forth? And what is Tmobile going to do about fixing the problem? And how are they going to win their affected customers’ trust back?

We’ve reached out to T-Mobile and passed these complaints and pictures on to them, and they’ve promised that they’ll have a statement ready for us soon. UPDATE: T-Mobile’s statement:

T-Mobile is aware of reports from a few customers who have seen inappropriate or unwanted pictures in their online “MyAlbum” section within their MyT-Mobile account. We are taking these reports seriously and actively investigating these issues.

Our initial analysis of the reports leads us to believe that pictures were likely sent to some customers’ mobile number by a third party, whether the customers knew the sender or not. If a customer has not had picture messaging enabled on their handset, a picture sent to them may be delivered only to their online MyAlbum account. For this reason, some customers are surprised when they see the picture for the first time in their MyT-Mobile account.

We will continue to investigate the reports but if customers would like to avoid receiving picture messages in the future they can explore using T-Mobile’s Message Blocking features which are accessed through their MyT-Mobile account online.

(Cat pictures: amboo who? and D.P. Rubino)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. junip says:

    wowww…that’s a scary picture…

  2. moore850 says:

    T-mobile… classy!

  3. dohtem says:

    They will blame hackers.

  4. Barbobaggins says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever look at my cats the same way again. Couldn’t have used an Aye-Aye instead? You’d still need the brain bleach, but you wouldn’t need to have a repeat rinse when you get home.

  5. SJPadbury says:

    I’m surprised about the number of pornographic pictures that are being reported. I realize that innocent enough pictures won’t generally be commented on, But now that this is getting more attention, are people seeing other, non-pornographic pictures there too, or is someone in T-Mobile’s IT department pulling a prank on their entire customer base?

    • YardanCabaret says:

      @SJPadbury: I’ve got a logo for a sports team I’ve never heard of appearing in mine so it’s not JUST porn. I think it’s that porn gets noticed. If it was just some innocuous picture you would think it was an ad. I did, wasn’t till reading that original article that I double checked. Porn makes you say “hey wait a minute” and take a closer look.

  6. catskyfire says:

    I like the ‘we’ve cropped them and added cats’.

  7. Slave For Turtles says:

    Kudos for the added kitties!

  8. apollo46 says:

    Every time i get someone else’s pictures, naked half the time.

  9. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    This seems like a situation of a hacker or unscrupulous employee doing some damage.

    That being said, I am strongly inclined to join this MobileLife thing. Apparently all the hip cats are on there – pun not intended… oh what the hell, it was.

  10. sir_pantsalot says:

    That is one heck of an all you can eat buffet. Bleh!!! My T-Mobil is due by the tenth but I think I will wait as long as possible to let them get this resolved.

  11. KarbonKopy says:

    I wouldn’t be offended. Send them my way T Mobile.

  12. Fuzz says:

    You covered the naughty pits with Pussies? Interesting strategy.

    On a more serious note, I like how the standard company line is “its not our fault, its yours”. Instead of “looking into it” they just blame the customer. Slick.

  13. stopNgoBeau says:

    HOLY CRAP! It’s on mine too! I just looked just to see what might be and OH CRAP! I’ll be sending mine in to Consumerist as well.

  14. G.O.B.: Come on! says:

    “It could arouse spousal suspicion…”
    I see what you did there, Alex. Unfortunately, it doesn’t lead to spousal arousal.

    It’s strange that it’s only porn that people are getting. Or is it just that people only notice porn? I would imagine that if it’s a problem with the system in general, then people should be seeing innocuous pictures as well and not just porn.

  15. Coles_Law says:

    I wondor if they’ll start charging $19.99/month to ‘pay your bill’.

  16. SacraBos says:

    Classic Johnny Carson to Zsa Zsa Gabor:
    “I will if you move that darn cat!”

  17. Aaronjk says:

    What if your 10 year old daughter logged in and got that picture. I think that would spell LAWSUIT in a heartbeat!!!

    • ludwigk says:

      @Aaronjk: Distributing obscene material to a minor is a felony. I’m a liberal enough guy that just a topless woman doesn’t automatically trigger my obscene flag, but some of these followup pics? Yeesh! Say what you want about it being the customer’s fault, T-Mobile, it’s your funeral.

      If someone has a child who also shares their T-Mobile account, they should send the F.C.C. and the AG a couple sample pictures of what T-Mobile doesn’t consider to be their problem.

      • SteveZim1017 says:

        @ludwigk: I was under the impression that this only shows up on the bill pay screen. How many people are having their 10yr old go pay their own cell phone bill online.

        • stephennmcdonald says:

          @SteveZim1017: While I agree with that idea in theory, I know a lot of people who are trying to get their kids more involved with finances early (a great idea), in some cases as young as 7 or 8. So they could very well be sitting with their parents as they pay their bill online.

  18. sweetnjoe says:

    Those poor poor kitties.

  19. ArcanaJ says:

    Checked my own bill and all the photos are those that I have taken with my own phone. I’m almost disappointed.

    Almost.

  20. Mr_Human says:

    T-mobile just can’t catch a break these days.

  21. aka_mich says:

    Ok, now I see the problem.

  22. rhys1882 says:

    It sounds like the problems are occurring specifically with people who don’t even use MobileLife. My guess is that there is a database somewhere of generic filler pictures that are supposed to be used if you don’t have any actual pictures in MobileLife. Some hacker or employee has probably gotten into that database and swapped out the pictures with the pornographic ones. The fact that they are almost all highly pornographic clearly indicates that it’s intentional.

  23. wickedpixel says:

    disappointingly, when i log into my account i get a picture of my cats. i was hoping to cash in on the eventual class action lawsuit this will instigate.

  24. ovalseven says:

    Has anyone with offensive pics checked the source code to see what server is hosting the images? Is it T-Mobile, or some other site?

  25. Namrok1 says:

    My plan is now complete. Mwuahahahahahaha.

    (No, for serious, though, I have nothing to do with this. Except for the “I (kitty) U.” That’s totally me in the picture.)

  26. seth_lerman says:

    Just checked my account. Still no boobies…

  27. AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

    Alas, no random boobies for me. :( Just the ones that I took myself. Wonder if they ended up on someone else’s page . . . ?

  28. alceste says:

    Certainly, a hack is likely.

    The most likely innocent explanation is a hash collision.

    [en.wikipedia.org])

    Whatever algorithm T-Mobile is using to identify a user for purposes of this preview, rather than the _correct_ user, the system retrieves the first pictures which are stored with a similar identifier.

    This would explain why some people always see porn, and others do not.

  29. heismanpat says:

    I’ll add another vote for crappy programming.

  30. valarmorghulis says:

    I swear to got I thought the guy and the lady were wearing Stormtrooper helmets. Was saddened to discover otherwise.

  31. hambot says:

    I just checked my account and came across a photo of a naked man bent over with a cow’s nose up his bum. WTF, T-Mobile?

  32. DefineStatutory says:

    I realize it’s a serious issue…but when people get surprise boob/kitty shots in their bill pay window, the 12 year old in me takes over and starts giggling.

  33. corinthos says:

    Think they fixed it or might just be mine. I logged into see if they changed the naked pic they gave me and now it just informed me to manage my album.

  34. spadefoot says:

    Dang! Just checked mt T-Mobile account page, and no free pr0n.

  35. Awjvail says:

    I’ve got one pussy sleeping between my legs and another 7 month old pussy sleeping beside me.

    The kitten’s name is Pussy Galore.
    For srs.

    And now I’m never going to look at them the same again.

  36. Bargaineering.com says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find out this all was perpetrated by 4chan :)

  37. MIAMIFROST says:

    PORN RULES !

  38. Schildkrote says:

    Hey, cool, maybe they’ll soon fix the issue and I won’t have to read Consumerist with porn pictures on the top stories bar. That would sure be swell.

  39. stardeo says:

    I don’t have porn in my album, but when I look at my MobileLife Contacts I see phone numbers and people that apparently live in Texas. I’m in Minnesota. A couple of the people are labeled in “interesting” ways.

  40. qcgallus says:

    This gives new meaning to T-Mobile’s motto: “Stick Together.”

    It would seem that at least one couple is.

  41. The_Legend says:

    Maybe they got some of the data from the Sidekicks back and mixed it back in.

  42. Gracegottcha says:

    Kitties not titties!

  43. lessemm says:

    Maybe Consumerist should post a fully scrubbed (no pics) version of this story. I feel bad for the HR guy who tries to clear his name by forwarding this story to his whole office and then gets accused of distributing even more porn — and this time with those poor cats involved…

  44. thomas_callahan says:

    And why don’t they just turn that thing off until they can fix it!?

  45. holocron says:

    We’re sorry-My T-Mobile is currently unavailable while we work to improve the site for you. Please try again later.

    Important message for T-Mobile customers

    Some T-Mobile customers may be experiencing intermittent service
    disruptions impacting calls and messages.

    Our rapid response teams have been mobilized to restore service as
    quickly as possible.

  46. BrazDane says:

    My guess is the site employs a sort of photo gathering software similar to a ‘random Flicker photo’ screen saver.

    I think it might be intended to ‘build community’ to see pictures of other regular people, but somehow it is gathering photos from inappropriate sites. Could be something as simple as the web programmer sticking a few unauthorized photo feeds in there.

    My bet is that it is automated software gone haywire. Alternatively, this space is sold to an advertiser, who is showing inappropriate content w/o Tmobile knowing (until now).

  47. pot_roast says:

    I keep logging in hoping to see something, but no. Just photos of pets and some guy with his motorcycle. :(

  48. MartaMyrrha says:

    Funniest use of kitteh pics EVER!!!!

    Man I am still laughing!!!!

  49. djkatscan says:

    Is it wrong to feel dissapointed to find no nude pics on my account page?

    Side note: the cats are funny as hell. I especially like the one saying “NO!”

  50. econobiker says:

    Nothing in my account under “My Album” – in fact it wanted me to agree to a pretty restrictive Terms of Service/Contract (arbitration, no jury trial) to even access the album- I disagreed and the account dumped me out to resign in again…

  51. coffeeculture says:

    My mom has tmobile so I asked for her log-in credentials…HOLY CRAP THERE *IS* porn on here!!! Hahaha..so much for isolated!

  52. coffeeculture says:

    There’s another photo in there from a family with “Happy thanksgiving!” as a text underneath. It appears these were sent/uploaded to *someone* and somehow ended up in our account (we don’t know who these people are).

    And I got a picture of someone’s testicles and a FWD message saying i got teabagged and to pass it on.

    Fishy stuff =/

  53. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    Two words re: the kitteh-redacted photos: eye bleach.

  54. flugennock says:

    You mean, a bunch of pr0n pops up that’s totally not suitable for any situation, and T-Mobile’s droids tell you to delete it and move on? Y’mean, they don’t care if it causes people to be written up, fired, sued for divorce?

    Hell, man; if it were me, I’d take their advice — and delete my goddamn’ T-Mobile account and move on — to another wireless provider.

  55. Legal_Eagle_In_Training says:

    holy cow, i just logged into my account and got an EYEFUL. Sidenote, I also got a pornographic email today from fake_name24@hotmail.com with a picture attached of his (or someone’s) erect member. It’s the same email I use for T-Mobile notifications. The body of the email said something about finding my email in their hook ups folder. NOT TRUE. I didn’t get that email until about 2mos before my wedding…

    Could it be that whoever hacked the T-Mobile site is also spamming the emails they got with pornographic emails? Has this coincidence happened to anyone else??

  56. frob23 says:

    When I first got a T-Mobile phone well over a year ago, this happened to me! The first time I logged into the account, there was a picture of a very well endowed man who appeared to be very excited.

    I was rather flustered… since my mother was in the same room as I was. And I just wanted the picture to go away. So I deleted the picture right away. It didn’t come back. And I haven’t really thought about it until I read this.

    I don’t use their mobile service these days (it’s easier to just use the usb connection on my new phone) and I wonder if there is any new random porn on the account. If their explanation is correct, it would have appeared on my phone if there was.

  57. Frank From Virginia says:

    Did they change their name to “T & A-Mobile”?

  58. blacksky08 says:

    I actually work for the company and have logged on to multiple customer’s online accounts for the sake of showing them how to access their MyAlbum. One time I logged in and saw a bunch of pornographic pictures…I immediately logged out, and said, “and that’s how you log into your MyAlbum account.” It turned this simple conversation into a very uncomfortable one.

  59. mac-phisto says:

    @Coles_Law: it fits with their marketing campaign.

    now, if only we can get them to work on their brand imaging. shouldn’t all those pictures be of catherine zeta-jones?

  60. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    @mac-phisto: Either disgrintled empoyee, or XSS attack.

  61. Saites says:

    @ChemicallyInert: “There’s no other plausible explanation I can think of.”

    The feature was coded poorly. A virus seems unlikely, as that would be quite a focused virus.

  62. danep says:

    @ChemicallyInert: I also strongly suspect viruses or DNS hijacking, and not a problem on T-Mobile’s part.

  63. bobbycreekwater says:

    @ChemicallyInert:

    I dont think thats the case – I too have unexplained pictures on my T-Mobile account which are not pornographic pictures at all. Just average looking people taking average pictures. I have tried to delete them before without success.

  64. eddieck says:

    @danep: Viruses? The screenshot in the post here shows a Mac using Firefox, and others reporting this use Windows. (Contrary to Apple’s advertising, there are Mac viruses, just very, very few; I believe less than 10 total.) I guarantee you this isn’t a virus.

  65. Mauvaise says:

    @veronykah:

    I know, how dare they, right?!

    I feel like I should be outraged at something, but they’ve done nothing but provide good service and a really decent price.

    :: shakes fist at T-Mobile ::

  66. mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

    @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: You wouldn’t, by chance, happen to be a T-Mobile CSR or Level 2 Tech? Perhaps reading the article instead of just looking at the naughty pictures is in order?

  67. flugennock says: