Our phones say a lot about us — you wouldn't let just anyone look through your pictures, text, or apps, and especially not the search history. For some of us, the instinct to keep our phones close comes from embarrassment. But for others, it's because there's something to hide.
1. "I am a librarian. People always want help printing things from their phone. I can't tell you how many times people have handed me their phone, only to have their web browser be open to full-on porn."
2. "A bartender friend of mine found a phone unlocked on the bar and couldn’t locate its owner, so he punched in his own phone number. He found out he was already in the contacts as ‘Creepy Jay.'"
3. "My now–ex-wife’s iTunes on her iPhone was actually my account that I set up for my iPad. She was too lazy to set up a new account. I told her if she did that that, her iMessages would come through to my iPad. She said she didn’t care…until she started cheating on me and I got the texts directly to my iPad."
4. "A WhatsApp group chat titled 'Without [my name].' I was at a party and this guy, who was also excluded from the chat, had one of the girls' phones unlocked and showed it to me. No, they were not planning my birthday. They weren't really close friends, but it still hurt to be excluded."
5. "I found texts from my girlfriend's secret lover. This was in the early 2000s, when phones were still super primitive. Her phone had that Snake game on it and mine didn't, so I would occasionally use her phone to play Snake. The game would get interrupted if someone texted though. And sure enough, while I was playing, her secret lover texted her. I saw it, and then couldn't help myself and had to read the rest of the texts between them. It absolutely crushed me."
6. "I made friends with this outcast when I was in college. He was from South Korea and in Sydney with no friends or family, so I made a point of having lunch with him. Eventually we hung out outside of lunch and would sightsee around the city. One day, he showed me a picture of his mother’s birthday cake. At the bottom of the screen, I thought I'd seen multiple pictures of the pajamas I'd worn the night before. It seemed so outlandish that someone would take multiple photos of me sleeping in their lounge. But later that day, he ducked off to the bathroom and left his phone on the table. I grabbed it and looked at the photos. There was an entire album, with my name, full of at least 100 photos of me that I had no idea he took, including close-ups of my chest and butt. He came back while I still had his phone in my hand, and knew exactly what I was looking at. I calmly told him what a creep he was, deleted the photos, and jumped on the next train home."
7. "Our supervisor was showing us phone pics from her Cancún vacation, and she accidentally swiped up to a selfie of her with a cock in her mouth. She looked really happy in the pic, so I was happy for her, but of course she was mortified."
8. "An app that allowed a married man to control a vibrator my girlfriend was wearing while around me."
9. "My aunt handed me her late husband's phone three weeks after he had died from COVID so I could recover all the photos he had on his phone for a slide show she was putting together for her entire family. When I recovered everything from her late husband's phone, I found out he was cheating on my aunt with a woman in her early 20s who attended church with them. So I deleted all of her nudes and texts and any videos or photos he had of her. I even double-checked his iCloud and email to make sure he didn't have anything else. Then I gave them the phone. She was already going through the process of grieving over her husband and son, who died just a few days after her husband. She didn't need more pain."
10. "At a previous job, I was responsible for managing and assigning cellphones. I got one back and was going through it to set it up for a new employee, then found dick pics from the previous owner. On his company-issued cellphone. Taken while driving a company-owned vehicle."
11. "A nasty thing I found was when I was fixing my grandma's phone, and sext messages came through from her boyfriend. She was right next to me at the time, and I saw her jaw drop from the corner of my eye."
"It was kind of funny, though."
12. "I met this dude in art class my first year of high school. We took the same train home, and one day, he gave me his phone to show me a meme. I scrolled a bit and found a bunch of Pokémon and Mario porn. Like, hundreds. It was hard to face him after that."
13. "I work at a cellphone store and authorize returned products. I was testing someone's phone, and there was a picture open as soon as I powered on the phone to the home screen. It was the owner of the phone, giving birth. Like, very graphic. I closed out as fast as possible. Another time, we got a return from one of our sales reps' personal phones. My manager went through the texts and found out that this particular sales rep was selling drugs out of one of our locations."
14. "I found out my wife was dying after I read messages between her and her sister. I guess she was too afraid to tell me just yet. I waited until she wanted to tell me on her own before I told her that I'd seen the messages and already knew."
"Now we're trying to make every moment a good one because these moments will be our kids' memories."
15. "It's definitely not the 'worst' or even bad, but the most surprising thing I've found on someone's phone was on my brother's: He had a guy's name labeled with hearts beside it. He later came out, and I felt like freakin' Sherlock Holmes."
16. "A former micro-influencer friend of mine has a hidden album of over 10,000 dick pics on her phone. She’s collected them over the last few years. There are so, so many, and I am not exaggerating. She literally downloaded and saved every single dick pic she’s ever gotten. And then she would just randomly offer to show other people!"
"That was one of the many, and actually least dramatic, reasons we are no longer friends."
17. "My mom died unexpectedly four years ago of a brain aneurysm. She was 48 years old. I was looking through her phone shortly afterward and found her Fitbit information from the morning she died. There was a violent change in heart rate, then a sudden drop-off. It’s actually the only way we knew when she died, because my dad found her hours later after he got home from work. I’ve always found it very unsettling."
18. "When I was working in the paint department at Home Depot, a customer was showing me pics of his house on his phone so I could give him an idea of what he’d need. As he was randomly swiping, he went too far and ended up on a live photo of his dick wagging back and forth like a buoy. I still helped him for another 20 minutes, but we were both a lot less talkative, to say the least."
What's the most appalling or worst thing you've seen on someone else's phone? Let us know what you saw (and possibly wish you could unsee) in the comments or through this anonymous Google form!
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.