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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

A bug in iOS 17.5 is apparently causing photos that have been deleted to reappear, and the issue seems to impact even iPhones and iPads that have been erased and sold off to other people.


A Reddit user wiped an iPad following Apple's guidelines in September of 2023 before selling it off to a friend. That friend updated the iPad to iPadOS 17.5 this week, and began seeing the Reddit user's old photos reappearing in the Photos app. From Reddit:
I wiped the iPad using official Apple guides before selling. I never logged into that iPad with my Apple ID after erasing the iPad. I sold my iPad to a friend in September 2023, they called me today after updating to iPad OS 17.5 and said my old pictures appeared in their Photos app... HUGE PRIVACY VIOLATION. I see other reports of this. How many people will get other people's photos on the devices they bought from other people?
The impacted iPad was a fourth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro that had been updated to the latest operating system update, and before it was sold, it was erased per Apple's instructions. The Reddit user says they did not log back in to the iPad at any point after erasing it, so it is entirely unclear how their old photos ended up reappearing on the device.

Earlier this week, we shared several other reports of users who saw deleted photos resurfacing on their devices after updating, but those reports were from users who still owned their devices and were logged into their own iCloud Photo Libraries and Apple IDs.

The latest report suggests that the erased and sold iPad is somehow restoring old photos from an Apple ID that is no longer signed in to it. The Reddit user says the photos that are reappearing are from 2017, which is in line with similar reports. The images were initially taken on an iPhone, and so had been synced to the iPad via iCloud Photo Library before the iPad was wiped and sold.

Other users have seen photos from years ago (as late as 2010) reappearing suddenly, with no explanation for why. Not all users are seeing this problem, nor does it appear to be impacting all deleted images.

Apple devices are supposed to retain photos for 30 days in the Recently Deleted section of the Photos app, and images should be deleted automatically if a second delete procedure is carried out from the Recently Deleted interface. Apple has not yet provided any information on why some users may be seeing photos reappearing, and it is concerning to hear of a report of old photos showing up on a device that was wiped and sold.

Update May 19: The Reddit user who reported the issue has deleted the original post, casting significant doubt on the veracity of the claim.

Article Link: iOS 17.5 Bug May Also Resurface Deleted Photos on Wiped, Sold Devices [Updated]
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macrumors 68000
Sep 11, 2012
Indy, US
If this is true and found to be done to others - this will be catastrophic.

Think of all the iPhones, iPads, etc you’ve had over the years and seemingly any of them that can update to iOS 17.5, could experience this.

Deleted showing up on my devices is one thing (though concerns about how they are coming back exist) - but on devices I no longer own and have sold, etc? Far more worrisome.

Devices, especially secondhand, can easily be given to kids, seniors, etc. and now someone’s NSFW photos could be in their devices, despite that person having sold the device a year or two ago? This is VERY bad, if true.


macrumors 6502
Dec 11, 2009
So Apple accidentally proved what we already know.

Quantum Information Theory: In quantum information theory, the no-hiding theorem states that if information is lost from one part of a system, it must be hidden somewhere else in the system. This theorem supports the idea that information cannot be completely destroyed, but rather redistributed.
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