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Taiwan flag emoji crashed iPhones 'to appease China'

12 July 2018

Patrick Wardle, Digita Security's chief research officer, was taken in by the plight of a Taiwanese friend who could not type the word "Taiwan" or receive a message containing a Taiwanese flag without causing a crash on their iPhone.

He was initially skeptical, but was able to verify the claim and - by a somewhat tortuous process - work out what was causing it. Essentially, if you set your iPhone or iPad's device language or location settings to China, or "CN" on the code side, the operating system will block the Taiwan flag emoji from being displayed.

Prior to the software update, the baffling bug allowed anyone to crash a vulnerable device by simply sending a text with the Taiwanese flag. Messages which were sent featuring the emoji included only a blank space.

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Apple released iOS 11.4.1 earlier this week which fixed a couple of security bugs, while introducing a new USB Restricted Mode.

Not known for its love of freedom of speech, China isn't too stoked about its citizens blabbering on about Taiwan, perhaps due to the country's rather oppressive view on the idea the island nation should be part of it, rather than a pseudo lone country. However, the Chinese government has long desired taking control over Taiwan. And given the relationship China has with Taiwan, the company might be appeasing the Chinese government with its flag blockade. In addition to agreeing to filter out Taiwan, Apple has had to take other measures, including purging VPN apps from the Chinese App Store, in order to fall in line with Beijing's censorship policies.

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Apple has not yet issued any comment regarding the flaw, which the researcher says was indexed as CVE-2018-4290.

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Emojis may be a fun form of communication but they are destroying the English language, a recent study by Google has revealed.

The most common errors made by Brits are spelling mistakes (21 per cent), followed closely by apostrophe placement (16 per cent) and the misuse of a comma (16 per cent).

They were first used by Japanese mobile phone companies in the late 1990s to express an emotion, concept or message in a simple, graphic way.

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Taiwan flag emoji crashed iPhones 'to appease China'