Poke Her? You Hardly Know Her!

Tirelessly working to further their goal of giving every individual piece of functionality its own app, Facebook has released the Facebook Poke app today. While being described by many as an app for sexting, you may want to think twice about sending that photo that you think will only be seen once.

One of the largely publicized features of the Poke app is the ability to send a photo, video or text message that is only viewable for a short period of time. Determined by the sender, the content can be visible for 1, 3, 5 or 10 seconds before it’s gone forever. This timeframe starts once the receiver taps and holds on the message to view it. After the timeframe expires, the messages is gone for good. Or at least you hope.

The first obvious way to get around the time limitation is to take a screenshot while it is visible. Fortunately Facebook planned for this. If you send somebody a message and they take a screenshot of it, the sender is alerted by a flash icon that will appear on that message. However, that’s not the only way to save these timeless memories.

When you launch the Poke app, it reaches out to Facebook’s servers and downloads any photos, videos, message or pokes that you have waiting for you. By proxying SSL requests to when the app is launched, you can see the URL that the app is downloading the file from. The request will look something like this If you copy and paste that URL into a browser, you’ll see the content displayed and be able to download it to your computer. But what if you didn’t have the foresight to have a proxy running and the app has already downloaded the file?

Once the media is downloaded by the app it is stored on your device until you view it. By using an app like PhoneView we can dive into the Poke app bundle. If you drill down into Library > Caches > FBStore > number > MediaCache, you’ll find a list of any photos or videos you have not yet viewed. By copying them from here onto your computer, you ensure you can open that embarrassing photo or video any time you’re feeling a little down.

Neither of the above mentioned methods will alert the sender that you have saved off a copy of the package they sent. However, once the media has been viewed on your iPhone, it gets deleted from the Facebook URL mentioned above, and seems to be deleted off the device. So if you’ve already viewed the message and are looking for a way to get it back, you’re out of luck for now and the sender can breathe a sigh of relief. In the end, people just need to use common sense. You have to remember that if you’re sending somebody sensitive content, there is always a risk that it will not remain private. So maybe don’t send pictures of your junk to your friends.

By Nick Arnott

I like breaking stuff. I used to test iOS and Android applications. Now I test some other stuff. Sometimes I rant on Twitter.

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