Which conspiracy theories are most popular around the world

Security

We introduce the most infamous conspiracies and conspiracy theories in the tech world. Some of them have been confirmed to be highly real, others have been exposed as pure nonsense.

Planned obsolescence: Apple is slowing down iPhones

Almost since the beginning of the computer era, users have suspected that manufacturers are deliberately sabotaging their own products in order to force users to upgrade - for example with an operating system such as Windows XP - or to replace the device.

Apple was often in the field of fire here. iTunes for the Windows PC is allegedly deliberately particularly eccentric and cumbersome. The conspiracy theory was that Apple wanted Windows users to experience such a frustrating experience that they would rather switch to the Mac.

In the case of iPhones, many angry iPhone users were supposedly convinced that certain iOS patches were specially developed to make the iPhone slower. So that you finally get annoyed by buying a new iPhone. In the meantime, the conspiracy theory became a reality. Apple had to confirm that two authorities in the USA have investigated the company. The Ministry of Justice (DoJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) examined the processes surrounding the iOS update from 2017, which slowed down iPhones with weaker batteries in order to prevent them from being switched off when the charge is low.

Incidentally, the theory of planned obsolescence originated in the US automotive industry in the 1920s.

The Halloween Documents: Microsoft wants world domination

By the late 1990s, Microsoft had long established itself as a heavyweight in the computer industry. Of course, there have been a huge number of conspiracy theories about how Microsoft achieved this dominance. The so-called Halloween documents were the found food for this. These are internal Microsoft confidential documents that were disclosed to the public in October and November 1998. You can read in them how the Microsoft management viewed OpenSource / Freeware as a threat to Microsoft's dominant position.

The internal memos of the Microsoft management confirmed what many open source developers had already suspected: Microsoft was very concerned about the growing success of freeware and open source software - especially with Linux - and was actively working to combat this danger. In public, Microsoft was - of course - unimpressed by OpenSource software, but the memos show exactly the opposite, namely that the movement was viewed as a "long-term" danger.

The memos also warn that Microsoft's traditional marketing strategy known as FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) would not work against free software developers.

DR-DOS fake error messages

Since we are already talking about FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt): At the time of the Halloween documents, Microsoft was in an antitrust court case with Caldera, which had recently acquired the competing operating system DR-DOS. Caldera accused Microsoft of some anti-competitive measures that went back to the early 1990s - including the curious case of fake error messages.

It turned out that Microsoft had actually built encrypted code into a pre-release version of Windows 3.1 that generated false error messages for beta testers who used DR-DOS instead of MS-DOS. The error messages were intended to intimidate DR-DOS users - at least that's what the Caldera lawsuit alleged, which was based on a widespread and incriminating statement by a Microsoft board member: "The user should feel uncomfortable and if errors occur, should he assume that DR-DOS is the problem, which should induce him to buy MS-DOS. "

Wingding's alleged message

In 1992 the story made the rounds that the sequence of letters from "NYC" (New York City) in Wingdings (the font with the strange symbols) featured a sequence of images made up of a skull, a star of David and an upraised thumb. Some contemporaries interpreted this as an encrypted anti-Semitic message.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, there was a similar rumor about encrypted Wingding messages when entering the World Trade Center address or the flight number of the hijacked aircraft that first entered one of the twin towers. These reports were quickly exposed as hoaxes.