“We DEFINITELY won’t look at your dick-pics!” says smartphone repair company

In the era of ubiquitous smartphones and an ongoing moral degradation of our nation (copyright: Daily Mail), we have a Venn diagram with an inevitable overlap point:

Well that’s awkward! one in seven people have sent sexually explicit text to the wrong person (including naughty photos to family members)

There are many awkward moments in life but ‘sexting’ the wrong person has to be close to topping the list.

And for anyone who has made this humiliating error, you’re not alone because according to the latest research 1 in 7 Brits have accidentally sent a text message of an explicit nature to the wrong person.

And it gets worse, a quarter of these messages contained a risqué image in it and a tenth got shamefully caught out sending it to a family member.

Source: Daily Mail, 22 February 2013


Perhaps indicative of the gravitas of the subject, even The Times got in on the misplaced-message act:

Why you shouldn’t be embarrassed by a misplaced ‘sext’ message?

Imagine the embarrassment when you think you’ve sent a raunchy text to a partner only to realise the recipient was either your mother or your best friend’s dad.

Well one thing you can be assured of is that you are probably not the only one to have done it.

One in seven people living in the UK have accidentally sent a sext – a text message of an explicit nature – to the wrong person, according to new research.

Source: The Times, 23 February 2013


It’s likely to come as more of a shock to you than that time you got that text from your mum to discover that this story came from an online opinion poll paid for by ingeniously-named mobile insurance company Mobileinsurance.co.uk, in order to assuage fears that any saucy images on your handset will not be endlessly poured-over by the technician fixing your phone:

A spokesman for MobileInsurance.co.uk, who carried out the study, said: ‘We often have customers write in concerned that the contents of their mobile phone will be revealed when sending their handset off to be fixed, but people needn’t worry about that due to confidentiality. 

It’s also going to shock you more than that time your dad mistakenly posted that photo to your Facebook wall to hear that this story was derived from a press release placed by the same company, with Bianca London of the Daily Mail churning 63% of the original copy into her final article:


The bit that will blow your socks off more than that time you saw that photo of your mum blowing… OK you get the idea. The genuinely shocking part of this story is that along with the press release, we get to see the actual data, with the questions that were asked of the online participants.

I rarely quote original data on this blog, for a very good reason – getting poll data out of a PR company is far harder than getting that photo of your mum out of your mind. No, that joke is not running out of steam yet.

Taking a glance at the questions, the first thing that stands out is the minority of people who have ever experienced this headline-baiting sexting disaster:

1. Have you ever accidentally send a sexually explicit text message to the wrong person?

Yes – 14%
No- 86%

This shouldn’t be a surprise – we know the answer is 1 in 7 people – but when shown as a cold percentage it’s more clear than ever just how much of a non-story this is.

Here, exposed, is the key to almost every one of these PR opinion polls – even when the shocking or ‘interesting’ finding is untrue for almost 90% of respondents, the weight of numbers don’t stop the worst case scenario making the headlines. This exposes an important truth: the data does not affect the outcome, the pre-written story runs regardless, and the poll is conducted only to fill in the number-shaped holes in the storyline.

Whether the percentage of people who’ve sent explicit photos to their parents by mistake is 100%, 10% or even 1%, the story remains the same – meaning the data isn’t providing information, it’s merely window dressing; a scientific-looking convincer. And that can be an awkward thing to see exposed. A bit like your mum.